Donald Trump’s ongoing immigration sweeps have not only targeted “bad hombres,” as he’s repeatedly—and falsely—insisted. He has, in fact, made going after huge numbers of undocumented immigrants a key priority of his presidency.
Yet another aspect of this push was revealed by Reuters on Friday. The agency reported that among the people newly targeted by Trump are Trump hundreds of undocumented immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States for whom President Obama had previously lifted the threat of deportation.
In 2011, the Obama administration decided that factors like length of time in the country and whether or not a person was a danger to their community would help determine whether they deserved to be shielded from the threat of deportation.
However, Reuters found that Trump has reversed this policy, and reopened many of these cases. Frequently this happens after minor incidents such as traffic violations, or even for no apparent reason at all.
“This is a sea change,” attorney David Leopold, former head of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told the news agency. “Before, if someone did something after the case was closed out that showed that person was a threat, then it would be reopened. Now they are opening cases just because they want to deport people.”
Using data provided by the Executive Office of Immigration Review, Reuters determined that officials pushed to re-open 1,329 deportation cases between March 1 and May 31 of this year. During the same three months last year, prosecutors moved to open just 430 cases.
The trend fits in a larger Trump administration pattern of having granted agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection unprecedentedly broad latitude for immigration enforcement. And while the administration has repeatedly insisted that it prioritizes cases in which an undocumented immigrant represents a clear danger to the community, in actuality, ICE and CBP agents have swept up DACA recipients, parents, and others who presented no discernible threat.
Speaking with Reuters, a representative from ICE said that the agency will review cases “to see if the basis for prosecutorial discretion is still appropriate.”