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Fox exclusive: ICE non-detained docket explodes to 7.4 million cases

Exclusive: The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) backlog of cases has soared to more than 7 million in fiscal year 2024.

According to internal federal data obtained by Fox News, ICE’s backlog of detention cases has reached 7.4 million and is on track to reach 8 million by the end of the fiscal year, multiple federal sources confirmed to Fox News.

ICE’s website explains that the non-custodial cases are part of its Alternative to Detention Program, which provides case management support to released immigrants, which ICE says has “helped aliens comply with their release conditions” and “improved court appearance rates.”

Illegal immigrants in New York with drugs and guns previously arrested at southern border and released: ICE

This division shows President Biden and migrants at the southern border. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Senator and Fox News)

But the surge in migrants has left ICE severely understaffed: the agency has only about 6,000 deportation officers nationwide, not all of whom are assigned to non-custodial immigrant cases. As a result, each assigned ICE agent is responsible for managing an average of 7,000 cases.

Federal government sources told Fox News that current staffing and resource levels make it virtually impossible to process the backlog of cases, and that the increasing pace of border crossings is putting a huge strain on ICE officers.

Joe Biden walks with a border patrol officer

President Biden visits the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on January 8, 2023, and speaks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

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The number of non-custodial cases has increased by more than 1 million since Oct. 1 and has more than doubled since President Biden took office in 2021. When he took office, the number of cases was just under 3.7 million.

Federal sources noted that the number of people not in custody does not include records of about 1.9 million migrants who have entered the U.S. since Biden took office and who have never had any contact with the Department of Homeland Security.

A U.S. ICE officer seen from behind

However, those 1.9 million people are also the responsibility of ICE agents, who, in addition to maintaining records of immigrants not in custody, are tasked with tracking and deporting these immigrants.

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The White House and ICE did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Fox News Digital.

Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.

Get the latest updates on the ongoing border crisis from the Fox News Digital immigration hub.