Immigrant Arrests by ICE
October 24, 2018
Although Donald Trump declared while campaigning that his immigration policies would focus on violent criminals, the reality of his executive orders is that anyone with a final order of removal is being targeted for deportation. This is regardless of whether or not they are a threat to public safety. Indeed, many of those being deported have been living productive lives in the U.S. for decades and have no criminal record.
A final order of removal is an order from a judge that says the person has no more appeals left and can be deported.
Boosting Deportation Numbers
In the first year of Trump’s presidency, the number of non-criminal individuals arrested was up by 171 percent over 2016. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 46,000 people that had no criminal record, as well as 109,000 criminals. Critics say that targeting non-criminals with final orders of removal is an easy way to boost deportation numbers.
Many of the non-criminal immigrants with a final order of deportation have family in the U.S. with legal status, which makes them easy to find. Others have so-called orders of supervision, which means they check in regularly with ICE officials who know where they are. More than 90,000 people are under such supervision, and more than 1 million additional immigrants either have removal proceedings pending or have been ordered to leave and are still here.
In the past, these individuals would not have been high-priority for ICE. Instead, agency resources would have been used to catch and deport real criminals. According to the former ICE chief under President Obama, a final order of removal does not have anything to do with whether or not that person is a threat to public safety. Those with a final order of removal, which is a civil charge, should not be compared to convicted criminals.
However, ICE has created a category it calls ICE fugitives, which lumps together immigrants with final orders of removal alongside convicted criminals who have pending criminal charges. This tactic has enabled the agency to declare that 92 percent of the immigrants they have arrested had criminal convictions. In reality, the actual number of those with criminal records is closer to 70 percent.
Although arrests by ICE are up overall, enforcement varies greatly by location, as a new study by the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. shows. At ICE field office locations such as Miami, Dallas, and St. Paul, where local authorities are cooperative, immigrant arrests are up by 70 percent. By contrast, in office locations with “sanctuary” policies like San Francisco, Houston, and San Antonio, immigrant arrests did not rise so dramatically.
The authors of the report found that the fate of unauthorized or otherwise removable immigrants rested largely on location and had little or nothing to do with what, if anything, they had done.
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