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In this Jan. 27, 2021 file photo, President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. (AP) In this Jan. 27, 2021 file photo, President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. (AP)

In this Jan. 27, 2021 file photo, President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. (AP)

Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde February 26, 2021

If Your Time is short

While there have been reports of people deported during the Biden administration, it is difficult to say exactly how many were removed during his first 29 days because ICE does not publish how many people are deported per day.

An Instagram post takes aim at President Joe Biden’s immigration promise to halt deportations during his first 100 days in office, saying he failed his pledge.

"Biden promised 0 deportations during his first 100 days," said the Feb. 20 Instagram post. "In his first 29 days, Biden deported 26,248 migrants."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Is it accurate? The post’s broader point is correct. Biden as a presidential candidate said "no one" would be deported during his first 100 days. Yet, there have been reports of deportations under his watch.

It’s trickier, however, to corroborate the post’s precise number — 26,248 in his first 29 days.

PolitiFact cannot independently confirm the number because the immigration agency that carries out deportations does not publicly release how many people are deported per day, and the agency did not provide it to us despite our requests. Deportation figures are typically released on an annual basis.

Advocacy group’s ‘best estimate’

The Instagram post cites as its source United We Dream, an immigrant rights advocacy group. 

The 26,248 deportations figure is "a best estimate" based on news reports, data from immigrant rights organizations, and federal data from late January for "expulsions" under Title 42, according to United We Dream. 

Title 42 refers to a section of federal law that grants the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the authority to deny entry to people coming from a country with an outbreak of an infectious disease. Expulsions under Title 42 are not based on immigration status and are tracked separately from immigration enforcement actions. 

The Trump administration invoked Title 42 in March 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, and immigration officials have been quickly expelling people who arrive at the border ever since.

In January, U.S. Border Patrol reported around 62,400 Title 42 expulsions. People turned away under this rule are newly arriving; they are not necessarily people who have established lives in the United States.

United We Dream said it chose to add Title 42 expulsions to its count "because this is an unfair policy that uses COVID-19 as an excuse to keep people out of the country and can be reversed immediately, though Biden has chosen not to."

Biden’s campaign promise

Biden pledged as a presidential candidate to prioritize people who posed a safety threat for immigration enforcement.

During a March 2020 Democratic primary debate, Biden said that during his administration’s first 100 days, "no one, no one will be deported at all. From that point on, the only deportations that will take place are commissions of felonies in the United States of America."

On Jan. 20, David Pekoske, then-acting secretary of Homeland Security, ordered an immediate 100-day pause on the deportation of people with final orders of removal. The pause did not apply to people who had engaged or were suspected of engaging in terrorism or espionage, or posed a danger to national security. It also did not apply to people who arrived Nov. 1 or later, and to those who voluntarily waived any rights to remain in the country.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration over the deportation moratorium. A federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the moratorium on Jan. 26; almost a month later, the judge halted it indefinitely while the case continued. 

There have been news reports about deportations happening under Biden’s administration. But it’s unclear how many of those deported fell into one of the categories in Pekoske’s memo, and how many were people without criminal backgrounds who had lived here for a long time.

On Feb. 1, the Associated Press reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had recently deported immigrants to at least three countries: 15 people to Jamaica and 269 people to Guatemala and Honduras, and that more deportation flights were scheduled. At the same time, AP said that some of the people deported on flights "may have been" expelled under Title 42.

ICE data show that there have been around 28,700 deportations in fiscal year 2021 — but that includes aggregate data since October.

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