AG Moody: More 'damaging testimony' from ICE official in Florida lawsuit over immigration enforcement

More “damaging testimony” has been obtained about Biden administration immigration enforcement policies, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said after she released another transcript of another top federal official her office deposed as part of a lawsuit she filed against the administration.

Moody's office recently deposed Corey Price, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations.

Under oath, Price testified that ICE agents under the Biden administration are removing seven times fewer people who entered the U.S. illegally in the past year than the agency did 10 years ago. ICE is detaining only about half the number of people it did during the Trump administration and 40% less the number of people who entered the U.S. illegally now than it did during the last border surge in 2019. Instead of detaining and processing for removal foreign nationals who enter the U.S. illegally, ICE agents are releasing them into the U.S., he said.

Price also testified that senior Biden officials knew that changes to federal policy implemented by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last year would cut enforcement by at least half.

“Our deposition provides even more proof that the Biden administration is intentionally underenforcing federal immigration law in a way that has never been seen,” Moody said. “At every phase of the process, Biden is purposely failing to enforce the law and detain and remove inadmissible immigrants. Career ICE officials warned the administration that their reckless policies would drastically cut enforcement and still Biden continued to implement them – proving yet again, we only have Biden to blame for the border crisis and the surge in American deaths from Mexican fentanyl.”

Price’s testimony came after Customs and Border Protection Chief Raul Ortiz testified that the southern border “is currently in a crisis” as a result of Biden administration policies.

On Sept. 9, 2022, Florida Chief Deputy Attorney General John Guard took Price’s deposition despite the Biden administration attempting to prevent him from doing so. Moody’s office was forced to go to court and a federal judge ordered the deposition be taken.

After nearly every question asked, Price’s attorney objected before he replied.

“ICE is currently removing less aliens than it has in the last decade, right?” Guard asked.

“I do not have the last 10 years data available but it is less than at least the last four years that I have here,” Price replied.

In 2012, Guard said, “under President Obama, ICE removed almost seven times the number of aliens than the Biden administration did in either 2021 or 2022. right?”

“That appears correct,” Price responded.

Guard also pointed to other data showing that ICE booked in 45,680 people in 2021 and 48,226 in 2022, approximately half the of 99,000 booked in 2020, to which Price said that was “correct.”

Citing DHS policy showing that ICE bookings would be cut in half compared to the previous administration, Price said, “that appears correct.” ICE book-ins were actually even less because they involved CBP transfers, Price affirmed.

Not only are ICE removals and book-ins declining under the Biden administration, “but ICE is also detaining less aliens than it did during the Trump administration, correct?” Guard asked. Price said, “that’s correct.”

In 2021 and 2022 under the Biden administration, “ICE detained 40% less aliens than it did in 2019 during the last immigration surge, correct?” Guard asked. Price replied, “that’s correct.”

Last year, Moody sued the Department of Homeland Security for not following federal immigration law by implementing a new policy instructing ICE agents to not detain inadmissible foreign nationals intercepted at the border. Because the majority of those illegally entering the U.S. don’t qualify for admission under the Immigration and Nationality Act, by law they are required to be held until they are repatriated to their home country.

In the last full month of the Trump administration, federal agents released 17 such individuals into the U.S. pending resolution of their immigration claims. By July 2021 under the Biden administration, agents had released more than 60,000 people in one month.

As part of the discovery process of the lawsuit, DHS disclosed that more than 48,000 people who illegally entered the U.S. indicated Florida was their destination and all of them failed to check in with ICE.

“The federal government now has no idea of the immigrants' location or activity – even though most of them are legally inadmissible,” Moody said.

The case is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and the trial is set for January 2023.

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