Sharp increase in number of non-criminal undocumented immigrants arrested by ICE

Published 18 April 2017

The number of immigrants with no criminal records arrested has more than doubled under President Donald Trump.

The Washington Post reports that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement made 21,362 arrests from January to mid-March, which is an increase of roughly one-third compared to 16,104 during the same period last year.

The number of non-criminals arrested doubled to 5,441, suggesting Trump’s administration is enforcing immigration laws more aggressively than the previous administration. 

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 spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said in a statement.

“My sense is that ICE is emboldened in a way that I have never seen,” Dan Satterberg, the top prosecutor in Washington state’s King County, which includes Seattle, told the Post. “The federal government, in really just a couple of months, has undone decades of work that we have done to build this trust.”

Trump previously issued executive orders putting all undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation, but he told CBS News’ 60 Minutes that he would focus on criminals before deciding what to do with undocumented immigrants who had not committed crimes – immigrants he described as “terrific people.”

He has also said he would instruct DHS to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants.

The Post notes that since Trump took office, there has been a significant drop in the number of people arrested for crossing the Mexico border into the United States.

Fewer than 12,500 were caught at the southern border in March, which is the lowest monthly figure in at least seventeen years, and the second month in a row border arrests dropped sharply.