Now that the first few months of the Trump presidency has gone by, experts are beginning to analyze data pertaining to the arrests of undocumented immigrants throughout the United States. The staggering statistic being reported on by USA Today is that arrests rose 38% in the first three months under the new administration.
The stat was released by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement organization. To compare: in 2016, around 30,028 were arrested from the end of January to end of April. In the same months in 2017 that number rose to 41,318.
“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.
Immigrants were often arrested early in the morning, with ICE agents hoping to catch them before they head to work and out of the public eye. More recently, agents have been apprehending individuals who are at court for non-related issues. Some experts are concerned that this discourages beleaguered individuals from reporting crimes.
The arrests are a direct result of Trump's rescinding of Obama's policies on immigration arrests, which prioritized the apprehension of serious criminals and encouraged officers to ignore those who were not actively breaking any laws. More than half of the increase in arrests were of persons who had not done anything wrong at all, but had entered the country without proper documentation.
Trump supporters are seeing the statistic as an accomplishment. His detractors see it as a horror.
“What it tells me is that the department is willing to put enforcement numbers ahead of any kind of strategy that would actually try to keep us all safer going forward,” said Omar Jadwat, the director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. The Trump administration has countered by noting that 75% of those arrested had criminal records. Of those who did not have a criminal record, arrests had increased a mind-boggling 156% from last year.
"I get asked a lot why we arrest somebody that’s not a criminal," added Homan. "Those who do enter the country illegally, they do violate the law, that is a criminal act."
"If we don't call it out and stand up to it, America is moving in the direction of committing a mistake of historic proportions — driving millions of immigrants who are deeply rooted in our country out of the country they now call home," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a group that advocates for immigrants.
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