Non-Criminal Immigrant Arrests Increase With Trump, But He Hasn’t Deported More People Than Obama

As reported earlier, the Trump administration is deporting fewer people than the Obama administration, but the number of immigration arrests continued to increase. There is also new data, showing that these latest arrests are specifically increasing  for non-criminal immigrants.

Latino Rebels received the new 2017 data from U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which now includes the first six months under Trump.

The latest numbers show an increase of non-criminal arrests. From January to June of 2017, the number of non-criminal arrests has been consistently higher, when compared to 2016, but on similar levels as Obama’s early years. The highest number for Trump was registered in June with 4,176 non-criminal arrests.

According to an ICE official, “non-criminal” means that either the person has no criminal charges or conviction, is not an ICE fugitive or has not been previously removed by ICE or has a criminal charge but will not face criminal conviction. However, according to the ICE official, they have all violated U.S. immigration law. (FYI, this is a civil offense and not a criminal offense.)

ICE Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Rodriguez said in a media statement that despite people being considered as “non-criminals,” they have been arrested or deported due to violation of the U.S immigration laws. (Once again, that is a civil offense.)

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,”  Rodriguez said. “ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. However, as ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan has made clear, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”

For deportations, Trump numbers have actually decreased this year. For example, there were 19,932 deportations in March, the highest 2017 figured so far. However, this is lower than the 20,148 deportations from March of last year. In total, from since January of this year about 105,000 immigrants have been deported. Last year during the same time period, that figure was at about 121,000.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a memo back in February stating their deportation priorities. “Criminal aliens have demonstrated their disregard for the rule of law and pose a threat to persons residing in the United States. As such, criminal aliens are a priority for removal,” the statement said.

The new data clearly shows that ICE’s priority is to also target “non-criminals.” But it is also true that Trump is deporting immigrants at a lower rate than Obama. And it means that more private prisons are being filled and immigration courts are being backlogged.

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María Camila Montañez is a journalism student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Spanish-language program. She is originally from Colombia and tweets from @mariacmontanez.

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