Originally published by NY Times
Immigration arrests shot up 38 percent in the first three months of the Trump administration compared with the same period last year, according to figures released Wednesday, one of the first clear indications that the president’s hard-line policies are being carried out on a grand scale.
While President Trump’s more attention-grabbing ideas have been blocked or stalled, like building a border wall and temporarily stopping travel from some Muslim-majority countries, the statistics released by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement suggested that the more street-level aspects of his immigration agenda have achieved significant results, and quickly.
From Jan. 22 to April 29, ICE officers arrested 41,318 people, at a rate of more than 400 people per day, compared with 30,028 over roughly the same period in 2016, the data showed.
“These statistics reflect President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board,” said Thomas Homan, the acting director of ICE, on a phone call with reporters.
Many of the arrests took place at immigrants’ homes, as teams of agents spread out in the early hours of the morning to catch people before they left for work, a common tactic designed to avoid a public scene. But agents also have been moving more aggressively, taking into custody people who arrived for routine check-ins, and even apprehending people arriving at courthouses on nonimmigration matters.
The rapid increase in arrests was primarily the result of one of Mr. Trump’s first significant immigration moves, rescinding rules laid down by former President Barack Obama that prioritized the arrest of the most serious criminals and largely left other undocumented immigrants alone. More than half of the increase in arrests were of immigrants who had committed no crime other than being in the country without permission.
Mr. Obama’s policy was rooted in both humanitarian and budgetary reasons, but to Mr. Trump and his supporters, and many ICE agents, it represented a failure to enforce the law and a de facto amnesty for millions of people in the United States illegally.
Supporters of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies welcomed the news. “I feel that’s one step in the right direction, I definitely feel that way,” said J. D. Ma, a lawyer in Clarksville, Md., who voted for Hillary Clinton but agreed with the president on immigration. “The reality is that if you don’t do that, that’s going to encourage wave after wave and disrupt the order of the society.”
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