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Trump Immigrant Crackdown Spurs Surge in Arrests

Tiny Proportion of Those Caught in Sweep Have Violent Criminal Records

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. on February 9, 2017.  © 2017 Reuters

In the first 100 days of the Trump administration, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities have followed the president’s executive order and have stepped up interior immigration enforcement, arresting thousands of immigrants with no criminal history.

Data released on Wednesday confirms the heartbreaking stories we are reading everywhere are not isolated instances – a 158 percent increase in arrests of immigrants with no criminal history when compared to the same time period last year.

Arrests of immigrants with previous criminal convictions also increased but only by 18 percent, and a small slice of total arrests – 6 percent – involved people convicted of a violent offense. That means the vast majority – 91 percent – of the arrests of immigrants with criminal histories – more than 27,700 people arrested over three months – had only a non-violent offense on their records, which could include offenses like simple drug possession, driving without a license, and entering the US illegally.

For every arrest of an immigrant with a violent conviction, ICE arrested four immigrants with no criminal history and 10 with a previous non-violent conviction. This means that every single day, ICE arrested 112 people with no criminal history, 286 people with a previous non-violent criminal conviction, and only 28 people with a previous violent conviction.

It is clear that any rhetoric purporting a focus on public safety and national security is empty. President Donald Trump’s executive order prioritized for removal anyone who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” This means that all undocumented immigrants, even those with no criminal history, are now prioritized for arrest because illegal entry is a chargeable offense. The data show that ICE is following orders.

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