Below is a complimentary Demography Unplugged research note written by Hedgeye Demography analyst Neil Howe. Click here to learn more and subscribe.

Deportations Plunge to Record Lows - AdobeStock 134913328

The number of ICE deportations fell to a record low in April. Agents have made about 2,300 arrests per month since Biden took office, compared to over 10,000 per month before the pandemic began. (The Economist)

NH: In April, ICE deported 2,962 undocumented immigrants. That’s a decrease of -20% from March and a record low. Overall, ICE has made under 55,000 deportations in the first seven months of FY 2021.

If you extrapolate that figure for the entire year, the agency is on track to deport fewer than 100,000 immigrants. That would be the smallest annual number ever recorded since ICE (the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency) was set up under the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

These low figures are a direct result of a new Biden initiative. The White House has told ICE to prioritize deporting new arrivals and those who pose a national security threat. This is a reversal from Trump’s policy to treat all undocumented immigrants equally. 

What was the motivation behind the new order? Biden campaigned on finding a pathway to citizenship for the 11M undocumented immigrants already in the US. He is attempting to slow deportations until Democrats can broker a solution in Congress.

But immigration is proving to be a major problem for the administration. On the one hand, Biden is taking heat from Republicans for the influx of migrants crossing the border and reining in ICE’s enforcement capability.

On the other hand, progressives are upset he hasn’t repealed Title 42, a Trump-era executive order expelling border crossers without due process. (See “Surge at the Border: Biden’s First Challenge?”) As for Biden's hopes of a bipartisan compromise, IMO the Republicans have zero incentive right now to get rid of an issue that's working so well for them.

Much of the discontent has fallen on Kamala Harris. The Vice President accepted the lightning-rod role of dealing with the border, and as expected it has proven to be a thankless job. Critics have accused her of lacking a strategy and a clear message.

Harris went on a "root causes" tour of Central America at the beginning of June. And while she talked to the governments of Mexico and Guatemala, no meaningful plan emerged. She was then blasted for having never even visited the border. She has since toured the border in El Paso, where she was met with a lukewarm reception.

While the blowback is focused on the VP, pressure is mounting on the entire administration to do something substantial. Biden has announced he is trying to implement a new and faster approval program for asylum seekers.

He also wants to make it easier for temporary workers to come to the US. But even fellow Democrats whose districts are on the border are urging him to do more and do it fast. They have seen the polls: Only 33% of Americans approve of Biden's handling of the border. 

Deportations Plunge to Record Lows - Immigration

No surprise, the Republicans are already making immigration a wedge issue in the midterms. Jim Lamon, an Arizona Republican trying to challenge Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022, has been running an ad showing immigrants pouring over the border.

This is only one of many GOP television ads emphasizing immigration. Clearly, Republicans believe the border and crime are their best routes to success in the midterms.

They still have a ways to go. Some polls put Biden's overall approval rating as high as 56%. But the GOP figures there is still plenty of time for their message to amp up--and for other things to unravel for the administration. 

Deportations Plunge to Record Lows - Immigration 2

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Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.

A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.

Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."

Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.

Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.

Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.