The head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is retiring. Tae D. Johnson, the deputy director and senior official performing the duties of the director at ICE, will step down from his position at the end of June.  

“I appreciate his service to the country as a career law enforcement officer,” Tom Homan, the former acting director of ICE, told The Daily Signal in an email Tuesday. But Homan added that “as the acting ICE Director, he oversaw the lowest number of arrests and deportations in the history of the Agency and the lowest officer morale ever.” 

Johnson began performing the duties of the director of ICE at the beginning of 2021. ICE arrests and deportations hit record lows in fiscal year 2021 as border encounters soared. While arrests and deportations rose significantly in fiscal year 2022 compared with the previous year, the numbers were still the second-lowest recorded totals, hitting 142,750 administrative arrests and 72,177 removals. 

Homan, who is also a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, called it “unfortunate” that the Biden administration put Johnson in “a position that he could not lead the agency the way it should have been.” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)  

“They did not allow the officers to do their job and enforce the laws enacted by Congress and uphold the oaths they took. This country is less safe because of the failures of this administration,” Homan added.

Since the start of the Biden administration, Customs and Border Protection reports encountering more than 5.5 million illegal aliens at the southern border. Since fiscal year 2023 began on Oct. 1, CBP has encountered more than 1.4 million illegal aliens, about triple the number encountered at the southern border during fiscal year 2020. 

Johnson is the second top immigration official to announce his retirement in recent days. Last week, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz announced he will retire, also at the end of June.  

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised Johnson in a statement Monday, calling him an “integral member of ICE’s leadership team through multiple administrations.” 

“He has been instrumental in advancing many of DHS’s critical missions, including the enforcement of our country’s immigration laws and our work to dismantle terrorist and criminal organizations,” Mayorkas said, adding that “recently, Mr. Johnson led ICE’s successful planning and execution during the transition from the Title 42 public health order to the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.”  

Johnson’s departure announcement comes shortly after Title 42’s expiration on May 11. Border Patrol used Title 42, a public health measure set in place under the Trump administration during the COVID-19 pandemic, to quickly expel some illegal aliens from the country.  

“I have personally benefited from his frank assessments, solid judgment, and his deep expertise drawn from decades of experience,” Mayorkas said of Johnson. “I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Tae for more than 31 years of dedicated service. The Department is grateful for his service and sacrifice, and that of his family, who has served alongside him.” 

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