ICE arrests of undocumented immigrants without criminal records up more than 150 percent, U.S. officials say

(Photo: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency handout)

(Photo: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency handout)

Originally published by Yahoo News

In the 100 days since President Trump signed an executive order outlining U.S. immigration enforcement priorities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested nearly 40 percent more undocumented immigrants than during the same period a year ago — whether or not they had criminal records, immigration officials said Wednesday.

According to ICE data, deportation officers arrested 41,318 individuals on civil immigration charges between Jan. 22 and April 29, or 37.6 percent more than the 30,028 arrests made Jan. 24, 2016, and April 30, 2016 — an average of more than 400 per day.

But while the Trump administration initially said it would focus on undocumented immigrants with criminal records, the figures released Wednesday show that the arrests of those without criminal records have more than doubled this year. Between Jan. 22 and April 29, ICE arrested 10,845 undocumented immigrants without criminal records, compared to 4,242 during the same time period last year — a jump of more than 150 percent.

“ICE agents and officers have been given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the arrest of convicted criminal aliens,” ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said in a statement accompanying the report. “However, when we encounter others who are in the country unlawfully, we will execute our sworn duty and enforce the law.”

Homan said that nearly 75 percent of the undocumented immigrants arrested this year had a criminal records “ranging from homicide and assault to sexual abuse and drug-related charges.” In 2017, President Barack Obama’s final year in office, 92 percent of those arrested by ICE had criminal records.

“I get asked a lot why we arrest somebody that’s not a criminal,” Homan told USA Today. “Those who do enter the country illegally, they do violate the law — that is a criminal act.”

In February, Trump came under fire following a wave of ICE raids that stoked fear and panic among those living in immigrant communities such as Austin and Los Angeles.

“The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise,” Trump tweeted early Sunday. “Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!”

Amnesty International said the raids raised “grave human rights concerns,” and called for an immediate suspension of the executive order to “ensure that people’s human rights are protected.”

Trump said that the ICE raids were simply part of his campaign promise to crack down on “bad hombres.”

The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise,” Trump tweeted on Feb. 12. “Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!”

Meanwhile, the total number of ICE deportations — 56,315 — in the first 100 days since Trump’s executive order is actually down 12 percent over the same period in 2016.

Homan cited a backlog in immigration courts and a drop in the number of people caught crossing the southwest border as reasons for the drop in deportations.

But Homan vowed to carry out as many deportation orders as the agency can.

“ICE will take action to remove individuals subject to a final order by a federal immigration judge,” he said. “We are a nation of laws, and ignoring orders issued by federal judges undermines our constitutional government.”

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