EXCLUSIVE: New excerpts from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) training videos reveal the challenges faced by border officials due to the Biden administration’s relaxed “no processing” immigration policy, which resulted in the government losing track of at least 150,000 illegal migrants in the summer of 2021.
The videos, first obtained by Fox News Digital, show border officials discussing logistical issues they are dealing with after hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants were released into the interior of the country without thorough processing. The training videos span from November 2021 to February 2022 and are included as part of discovery in an ongoing lawsuit by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody against the Department of Homeland Security and other border agencies.
Due to lack of resources and a surge at the border after President Biden took office, officials in March 2021 started releasing migrants with instructions to report to the ICE office that’s closest to their intended residence, but without formal charging documents. ICE officials usually use charging documents, which require migrants who enter the U.S. illegally to appear before a federal immigration judge, in order to locate and remove those people.
Biden administration enacted “Operation Horizon” in November 2021 to attempt to locate over 150,000 released migrants and send their official charging documents by mail. However, the ICE training videos show that border officials were restricted in their ability to locate and remove illegal migrants due to the without the identifying information on the migrants.
“Operation Horizon, the background on this… you know over the summer, we had well over 150,000 folks come in,” one ICE official said in the video. “They were issued a piece of paper that said, ‘go find somebody in ICE,’ and that was pretty much it. There was no processing. I know this isn’t something that you guys asked for, and I can assure you that no one in the criminal alien program asked for it either.”
Another video clip showed a slide outlining Operation Horizon and its meaning for border agents on the ground.
“Since March 2021, CBP has been releasing noncitizens on prosecutorial discretion or humanitarian parole and directing them to report to the nearest ICE office where they intend to reside,” according to the slide narrator.
“This process does not address the underlying challenges regarding ICE’s congressionally mandated responsibility to locate, arrest and place into removal proceedings those noncitizens who are not in possession of a valid, unexpired entry document. Under Operation Horizon, ICE law enforcement officers will identify, locate and place into removal proceedings those noncitizens who CBP released into the United States after March 15, 2021,” the video said.
The videos surfaced one day before the Title 42 policy, a Trump-era immigration policy that reduced the number of asylum seekers the U.S. would allow under the COVID-19 pandemic, was set to expire on Dec. 21. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts delayed the expiry of that policy late Monday while the Supreme Court considers a plea from several states to maintain the immigration restrictions.
There were more than 2.3 million migrant encounters at the border in fiscal year 2022, and fiscal year 2023 has so far been on track to outpace that number. Republicans and Democrats feared that the expiration of the Title 42 policy would lead to an even bigger surge.
“Since day one of his administration, President Biden has purposefully broken down the structure and law enforcement at our nation’s border with Mexico—all while confusing and misleading the nation about this devious, reckless scheme,” Moody told Fox News Digital. “With Title 42 set to end, the administration may blame the mass surge of unvetted migrants on this rule’s remission, but don’t be fooled. They’re playing fast and loose with the lives of Americans to advance an absurd political agenda and the day of reckoning is upon us.”
“As our litigation uncovered, this has been this administration’s plan all along. They’ve let in and lost track of hundreds of thousands of inadmissible immigrants, and it is about to get worse. We will continue our litigation efforts to force Biden to follow the law and try to mitigate this national disaster,” the Florida attorney general continued.
ICE did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the training videos.
“Behind the scenes we are trying to make sure that we do something good and that we do it good because we all want to look good. So we have a mission. I’m very passionate about what we do. And this is what I want to make sure that you get the best of it,” another ICE official said to trainees in a video clip.