ICE arrests rose immediately after Donald Trump took office, but a closer look at data shows that immigration enforcement is actually down.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests are at roughly half the levels they were five years ago when President Obama was in office, according to a report released on Tuesday by The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a non-partisan data gathering group at Syracuse University.
According to government data analyzed by TRAC, ICE averaged 13,318 arrests per month between February and September 2017. In the 2011 fiscal year, ICE averaged 26,841 arrests per month.
Between 2008 and 2012, ICE monthly arrests averaged 25,473 per month, according to TRAC.
ICE arrests “also appear to have stabilized and are no longer increasing,” according to the TRAC report.
But even though arrests are down during the current administration, the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement operation stills feel more vicious and cruel—and that’s because they are.
The Trump administration is now going after more long-time residents in the interior of the United States. Immigration agents have also recently arrested more undocumented immigrants at courthouses, outside churches, and hospitals—all locations the Obama administration considered to be sensitive spots to avoid.
And the rhetoric seems even more horrific because it often targets the most vulnerable. Like the news about victims of domestic abuse not being eligible to apply for asylum. Or the Muslim travel ban, or the announcement that the humanitarian TPS program for multiple developing countries would end. There are the stories of families being separated at the border. There have also been the worksite immigration investigations at recognizeable locations, like 7-11s.
There’s the targeting of immigrant rights activists, people who the previous administrations avoided. There’s the prosecution of activists who would leave bottles of water behind in the desert so migrants don’t die of thirst.
There’s also the Trump administration’s attack on cities with sanctuary policies, that can limit how local city and state employees work with federal immigration enforcement. The TRAC report found the recent crackdown on sanctuary cities have had little impact on arrests.
“Despite this administration’s concerted efforts to push for greater assistance by state and local law enforcement agencies, as yet these efforts appear to have had little impact on the numbers taken into ICE custody,” according to the TRAC report.
Obama’s immigration arrest peaked under a program called Secure Communities. The controversial program used biometric data to identify and facilitate the transfer of undocumented immigrants in local jails to ICE custody. The Obama administration ended Secure Communities in November 2014.
Even though the current administration re-activated the program in 2017, its numbers are still trailing behind Obama’s. But in terms of pure spite and evil, the Trump administration is thriving.