Even in the absence of any newly signed executive orders, immigration topics continue to dominate the news cycle. This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency tasked with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, released a report confirming that during the first 100 days of President Trump’s administration, arrests and detention of undocumented foreign nationals increased 38% when compared to the same time period last year. The Acting Director of ICE, Mr. Thomas Homan, stated that his agency has refocused its enforcement efforts toward apprehending undocumented foreign nationals with criminal records. But the numbers would seem to disagree. The same report contains data that indicates the arrests of undocumented foreign nationals without criminal records rose 156% from last year. Additionally, between January 2017 and April 2017, more than 10,000 people who were arrested had only immigration violations on their record. This figure represents nearly triple the same type of arrests during the same period last year.
Policies Behind the Report
The Executive Director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigrant advocate group, commented that the President’s true goal for his administration is to carry out large-scale mass deportations. This sentiment may in fact be true because ICE agents have been empowered to arrest more non-criminal undocumented foreign nationals as part of the President’s January 25 executive order. Amongst other controversial provisions, this order expanded the pool of deportation “priorities” to include undocumented foreign nationals. In contrast, under former President Obama’s policy, a foreign national’s undocumented status was not enough to make them an enforcement priority. Instead, the person needed to be a member of a gang or have significant misdemeanors or felonies on their record in order to be considered a priority.