Federal prosecutors are quietly dismissing stacks of cases against illegal immigrants under a Biden administration mandate that could be on pace to effectively pardon 1 million people by 2024, according to leaked information reviewed by the Washington Examiner.
Attorneys for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have begun to throw out tens of thousands of the 2 million backlogged cases in immigration court following a political appointee’s order not to go after illegal border crossers from before the November 2020 election.
“This is a de facto amnesty,” said an ICE federal prosecutor who spoke with the Washington Examiner on the condition of anonymity.
The Washington Examiner obtained leaked video recordings of virtual meetings that Kerry Doyle, ICE’s principal legal adviser, held with the more than 1,200 ICE prosecutors who bring cases against illegal immigrants nationwide, in which she explained in detail who should not be targeted for deportation. Illegal immigrants identified as national security and public safety threats, or those who had crossed the border illegally after Nov. 1, 2020, would be the only cases ICE would pursue. All others would be dropped.
“As the memo explains — I think pretty clearly — we’ve put our thumb sort of heavily in favor of dismissal and durable solutions,” Doyle told her workforce in a private town hall meeting on April 14. “Even if you’ve spent a lot of time on the case, if it’s a nonpriority, you should be moving to offer [prosecutorial discretion] in that case.”
Doyle’s mandate to close out cases took effect on April 25. An indicator of how quickly ICE has moved is the number of cases wiped out in those two months. Between 60,000 and 80,000 cases have been closed, according to the ICE attorney. The total case closures since the start of fiscal year 2022 last October is more than 97,000, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research organization at Syracuse University in New York. Case closures eight months into 2022 are already up fourfold from all of 2021, another sign of how quickly ICE prosecutors are moving to clear the books.
If the agency’s 1,200 prosecutors keep the current pace of 60,000-80,000 case closures every two months, ICE could hit 360,000 to 480,000 closed cases by next April and 1 million by early summer 2024, months before the presidential election.