Justice

Donald Trump's Executive Orders Are Leading to More Arrests of Undocumented Immigrants

May 17th 2017

By:
Kyle Jaeger

President Donald Trump's executive orders on immigration have resulted in a significant increase in arrests of undocumented immigrants, including those with no criminal record.

In a press release, the federal agency reported that about 41,000 people "who are either known or suspected of being in the country illegally" were arrested During Trump's first 100 days an office, which represents a 37.6 percent increase compared to arrests during the same time span in 2016.

The numbers show that — even as the Trump administration is mired in scandals — he's still been able to accomplish one of his primary policy goals. 

Among Trump's first moves in office was to sign a pair executive orders calling for increased immigration enforcement.

"Morale amongst our agents and officers has increased exponentially since the signing of the orders," read a January joint press release from the unions representing border patrol agents and Immigration and Customers Enforcement officers.

That boost in morale has been accompanied by a growing number of arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record.immigrants-detained

Though ICE's press release touts an increased number of arrests of undocumented immigrants with criminal records, many of those swept up aren't the "bad hombres" Trump promised to target. 

Of the 41,000 undocumented immigrants arrested this year, about 11,000 had no criminal convictions. In contrast, only 4,200 non-criminal immigrants were arrested during the same time period last year.

"These statistics reflect President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board," ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said in a press release. "ICE agents and officers have been given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the arrest of convicted criminal aliens."

The president's pledge to prioritize immigration enforcement included language that seemed to make exceptions for certain groups, such as undocumented children who were brought to the country by their parents and students who complete high school and qualify for a federal deferred action initiative. 

But in the months since the president took office, it's become clear that ICE is using its discretion and, in some cases, targeting groups that were protected under the previous administration's policy.

"When we encounter others who are in the country unlawfully, we will execute our sworn duty and enforce the law." — ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan

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For example, father was arrested by ICE after dropping his 12-year-old daughter off at school in March. At least two individuals enrolled in a federal deferred action program, DACA, were arrested that same month. 22-year-old Daniela Vargas was arrested shortly after speaking out on behalf of immigrant communities during a press conference in Mississippi.

"My sense is that ICE is emboldened in a way that I have never seen," Dan Satterberg, a Washington state prosecutor, told The Washington Post. "The federal government, in really just a couple of months, has undone decades of work that we have done to build this trust."