Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities have doubled the number of undocumented immigrants without any criminal record arrested during the first months of President Donald Trump’s term, a clear sign that Trump has ditched his predecessor’s protective stance toward most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Immigration arrests rose 32.6 percent in the first weeks of the Trump administration, with newly empowered federal agents intensifying their pursuit of not just undocumented immigrants with criminal records, but also thousands of illegal immigrants who have been otherwise law-abiding. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21,362 immigrants, mostly convicted criminals, from January through mid-March, compared with 16,104 during the same period last year, according to statistics requested by The Washington Post.
While the Post notes that the total arrests thus far for this year are lower than the 29,238 undocumented immigrants arrested during the opening months of 2014 under President Barack Obama – who now holds the record for most deportations of any US president in history – it’s important to see these early numbers as part of a larger whole.
Almost three-quarters of immigrants arrested this year had prior criminal convictions, but the biggest jump was in arrests of illegal aliens without criminal convictions who have been otherwise law-abiding.
ICE’s Atlanta office arrested the most immigrants who had never committed any crimes, with nearly 700 arrests, up from 137 the prior year. Philadelphia had the biggest percentage increase, with 356 noncriminal arrests, more than six times as many as the year before.
An ICE Spokeswoman said no illegal immigrant is safe from deportation.
“As [Homeland Security] Secretary [John F.] Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” ICE spokesperson Jennifer Elzea said in a statement.