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Border Security Statistics and Removal Priority Outlook

Every year the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) releases end of year statistics. Recently, the DHS published enforcement statistics for the fiscal year 2014 (October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014).

Removal is the actual deportation of a person from the United States and a return is the actual return of a person to their country of origin. The DHS conducted a total of 577,295 removals and returns, including 414,481 removals and 162,814 returns. Immigration & customs Enforcement (ICE) reported a total of 315,943 removals and returns and Customs & Border Protection (CBP) made 486,651 apprehensions.

ICE has established removal priorities and 85% of ICE's removals and returns form the interior of the United States were convicted criminals.

Under the President's recent executive order, removal priorities will be further refined and will be categorized into three enforcement priorities. The Secretary of the DHS published the following regarding enforcement priorites:

Priority 1 (threats to national security, border security, and public safety) 

Aliens described in this priority represent the highest priority to which enforcement resources should be directed: 

(a) aliens engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage, or who otherwise pose a danger to national security;

(b) aliens apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States;

(c) aliens convicted of an offense for which an element was active participation in a criminal street gang, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 521(a), or aliens not younger than 16 years of age who intentionally participated in an organized criminal gang to further the illegal activity of the gang;

(d) aliens convicted of an offense classified as a felony in the convicting jurisdiction, other than a state or local offense for which an essential element was the alien's immigration status; and

(e) aliens convicted of an "aggravated felony," as that term is defined in section 101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act at the time of the conviction. 

Priority 2 (misdemeanants and new immigration violators) 

Aliens described in this priority, who are also not described in Priority 1, represent the second-highest priority for apprehension and removal. Resources should be dedicated accordingly to the removal of the following: 

(a) aliens convicted of three or more misdemeanor offenses, other than minor traffic offenses or state or local offenses for which an essential element was the alien's immigration status, provided the offenses arise out of three separate incidents;

(b) aliens convicted of a "significant misdemeanor," which for these purposes is an offense of domestic violence; 1 sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or driving under the influence; or if not an offense listed above, one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of 90 days or more (the sentence must involve time to be served in custody, and does not include a suspended sentence);

(c) aliens apprehended anywhere in the United States after unlawfully entering or re-entering the United States and who cannot establish to the satisfaction of an immigration officer that they have been physically present in the United States continuously since January 1, 2014; and

(d) aliens who, in the judgment of an ICE Field Office Director, USCIS District Director, or USCIS Service Center Director, have significantly abused the visa or visa waiver programs. 

Priority 3 (other immigration violations) 

Priority 3 aliens are those who have been issued a final order of removal2 on or after January 1, 2014. Aliens described in this priority, who are not also described in Priority 1 or 2, represent the third and lowest priority for apprehension and removal. Resources should be dedicated accordingly to aliens in this priority. Priority 3 aliens should generally be removed unless they qualify for asylum or another form of relief under our laws or, unless, in the judgment of an immigration officer, the alien is not a threat to the integrity of the immigration system or there are factors suggesting the alien should not be an enforcement priority.