Even as so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ around the country ramp up their efforts to thwart the Trump administration on enforcing immigration laws, despite the risk of losing their federal subsidies, arrests of illegal immigrants spiked 33% YoY in the first 52 days of Trump’s presidency.
Of course, for the Washington Post, such a spike in the enforcement of federal laws is highly disturbing and perhaps even a direct attack on the rights of sexual assault victims.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21,362 immigrants, mostly convicted criminals, from January through mid-March, compared to 16,104 during the same period last year, according to statistics requested by The Washington Post.
Arrests of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled to 5,441, the clearest sign yet that President Trump has ditched his predecessor’s protective stance toward most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Advocates for immigrants say the unbridled enforcement has led to a sharp drop in reports from Latinos of sexual assaults and other crimes in Houston and Los Angeles, and terrified immigrant communities across the United States. A prosecutor said the presence of immigration agents in state and local courthouses, which advocates say has increased under the Trump administration, makes it harder to prosecute crime.
“My sense is that ICE is emboldened in a way that I have never seen,” Dan Satterberg, the top prosecutor in Washington state’s King County, which includes Seattle, said Thursday. “The federal government, in really just a couple of months, has undone decades of work that we have done to build this trust.”
That said, we doubt very seriously that WaPo made the same arguments in 2014 when, under the Obama administration, immigration arrests were 37% higher than Trump’s first 50 days…wonder why that would be?
ICE “focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said in a statement. “However, as [Homeland Security] Secretary [John F.] Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
Meanwhile, arrests of people caught trying to sneak into the United States across the Mexican border plummeted in March to the lowest monthly figure in more than 17 years, a decline that Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said was “no accident” and directly attributable to the Trump administration’s firm stance on enforcing immigration laws.
By region, ICE’s offices in Dallas, Atlanta and Houston have recorded the largest number of arrests since Trump took office.
ICE’s Atlanta office arrested the most immigrants who had never committed any crimes, with nearly 700 arrests, up from 137 the prior year. Philadelphia had the biggest percentage increase, with 356 noncriminal arrests, more than six times as many as the year before.
The ICE field offices with the largest total number of arrests — more than 2,000 each — were in Dallas, which covers north Texas and Oklahoma; Atlanta, which includes Georgia and the Carolinas; and Houston, which spans Southeast Texas.
Immigration detainers — voluntary requests from ICE to law enforcement agencies to hold those arrested beyond their normal release so that agents can take them into custody and deport them — also rose, to 22,161. That was a 75 percent jump from the year before. But many were issued in areas that do not necessarily comply with ICE requests.
Of course, as enforcement actions surge so do claims of political persecution…
But Anabel Barron, an immigrant activist in Ohio, said she is facing deportation even though she is a domestic-violence victim who applied for a visa. She said ICE officials have affixed an electronic-tracking device to her ankle.
“I’m scared to go back to Mexico,” she said. “I’m losing hope.”
Others fear ICE is arresting immigrants in retaliation for asserting their rights, such as two dairy worker advocates in Vermont, who have since been released on bond, and a community activist in New York, who is detained.
“I honestly believe that ICE wants to send a message that this is what happens when you speak out,” said Boston immigration lawyer Matt Cameron, who represents the Vermont activists.
But perhaps ICE’s message isn’t “this is what happens when you speak out” as much as it is “this is what happens when you break the law”…just a thought.