EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Federal officials say they removed 72,177 migrants in fiscal year 2022 who were not amenable to swift Title 42 expulsions. More than half of those (44,096) had a criminal history.

The removals represent a substantial increase over the 59,011 deportations reported in fiscal year 2021 but lag the nearly 200,000 yearly deportations of Trump administration years.

In a Friday call with reporters, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, attributed the increase to the sheer volume of new migrant arrivals in the past few years and the explosive growth of the docket in immigration courts.

Department of Homeland Security immigration agencies in the past two fiscal years have reported 4.4 migrant encounters at the nation’s border, with about half being expelled under the Title 42 public health order. A staggering 4.7 million foreign nationals remain in the “non-detained” docket, which means they were not subject to Title 42, have court cases pending to remain in the country, but are not confined to an ICE facility.

Title 42 encounters by month, year (CBP graphic)

“As the non-detained docket has grown over the years, alternatives to detention have become an increasingly important tool for effective case management and accountability,” a senior ICE officials said during the call. “ATD complements law enforcement efforts by increasing supervision” of those going through administrative or immigration court proceedings.

ICE officials said the remote monitoring through electronic devices – ranging from government-issued cell phones to ankle monitors – increase the likelihood of migrants showing up to their court dates. The agency had 321,000 foreign nationals enrolled in alternatives to detention as of September 30, compared to only 23,000 in 2014. Participants spend an average of 18 to 19 months in the monitoring program before being removed to accommodate new arrivals who represent a greater flight risk, agency officials said.

The devices are increasingly handy as ICE has had to deploy 1,000 officers – a sixth of its workforce – to support operations at the Southwest border associated with the historic migrant surge of the past year.

ICE Air Operations has pitched in to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection manage the surge at the border with domestic transfer flights.

The agency arranged for 256 charter deportation flights to Guatemala, 220 to Honduras, 125 to Haiti and 120 to El Salvador in fiscal year 2022.

“In 2023, we anticipate that the challenging operational conditions that have characterized the past several years will continue to impact ICE activities and resource requirements,” ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson said during the call. “ICE will carefully balance resources while finding innovative ways to increase organizational efficiency.”