Arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have tripled under the Trump administration, according to an NBC News report.
The surge has been caused by a new ICE tactic of arresting — without warrants — people who are driving or walking down the street and using large-scale “sweeps” of likely immigrants, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in June by immigration rights advocates in Chicago.
ICE “administrative” arrests of immigrants without criminal convictions have spiked 203 percent in the first full 14 months of his presidency compared to the final 14 months of the Obama administration, growing from 19,128 to 58,010, according to NBC’s review of ICE figures. During the same time period, the numbers show that arrests of undocumented immigrants with criminal records grew just 18 percent.
In 2018 alone, ICE has issued press releases on 27 large-scale sweeps, with an average of more than 100 people arrested in each sweep, NBC said. On average, 30% of people arrested have no criminal record at all.
Massive ICE raids have torn apart communities and families across the country, from Chicago, to Tennessee, to Ohio—where agents reportedly lured workers with the prospect of free donuts before arresting them—to California. That’s in addition to the individual, targeted arrests the agency has made; in the past year, ICE agents have arrested a woman while she was paying off a minor parking ticket, a man delivering pizza, a man picking up his green card, and hundreds of other people going about their daily lives.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights has filed a class-action lawsuit against ICE over the raids. “The only thing I could think during this whole time was that they had pulled us over to see if we had immigration papers because both my co-worker and I appear Hispanic,” Margarito Castañon Nava, one of the five plaintiffs in the suit, said in a court filing.
We have reached out to ICE for comment and will update if we hear back.
Update, 5:43 p.m.: We heard back. Here’s the email we got from ICE spokesperson Matthew Bourke:
We have publicly announced statistics related to ICE enforcement actions, including arrests and removals, for quite some time. You can find them at this link, going back several fiscal year’s [sic], and at the attached document. As I told NBC, in FY17 almost 90% of alien’s arrested by ICE-ERO were either convicted criminals or had pending criminal charges.
I would also refer you to statements made by former ICE Acting Director Tom Homan, who remarked about jurisdictions that limit cooperation with ICE: “ICE will have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community.”
Finally, as ICE has said for over a year now - the agency will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and – if found removable by final order – removal from the United States. That said, the statistics show that ICE is clearly prioritizing the arrests of aliens with criminal records.