‘No population is off the table’: Data shows increase in immigrants arrests inside U.S.

"If you're in the country illegally, we're looking for you."

Foreign nationals were arrested this week during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens. CREDIT: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Bryan Cox
Foreign nationals were arrested this week during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens. CREDIT: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Bryan Cox

Arrests of immigrants along the border dropped to a “record low” while arrests of immigrants within the interior of the country went up 25 percent compared to last year, according to year-end statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“There’s no population off the table,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan said at a press conference at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. “If you’re in the country illegally, we’re looking for you.”

In its report released Tuesday, the CBP, which is the agency that mostly detains people within 100 miles of the border that wraps around the United States, made 310,531 arrests during the 2017 fiscal year ending on September 30, a decrease of 25 percent from the previous year.

ICE, which engages in immigration enforcement operations inside the country, made 143,470 administrative arrests of people, or arrests of people who committed civil violations of immigration law, a 30 percent increase from the previous year. The report, which provides separate data points for 2017 fiscal year arrest numbers that took place after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, show that arrests of immigrants without a criminal conviction on record made by ICE’s Enforcement Removal Operations (ERO) branch sharply increased after January 20.

The CBP report reveals, in part, that the Trump administration’s harsh rhetoric on immigration likely helped to deter recent border crossers from entering the United States. The ICE report appears to show an alarming immigration enforcement approach that promises to detain all immigrants, including long-term residents.

At the press conference, Homan slammed critics for saying ICE indiscriminately detains people, pointing out that “92 percent” of arrested individuals had a criminal conviction, a pending criminal charge, were an ICE fugitive, or were processed with a reinstated final order. Yet taking a deeper look at the data reveals two overlooked highlights in the ICE report:

Roughly one in four immigrants did not have criminal convictions on record at the time of arrest. 

CREDIT: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
CREDIT: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

According to the data, the ICE agency arrested 105,736 people who had criminal convictions in the 2017 fiscal year, or 73.7 percent of the total arrests. But 37,734 people, or 26.3 percent of administrative arrests during the 2017 fiscal year were of non-criminals, or people without a criminal conviction on record at the time of arrest, the ICE data shows. Of the total number of non-criminal arrests during the full fiscal year, the Trump administration was responsible for 31,888 of those apprehensions.

Deportation of Haitians went up 1800 percent compared to the same time period last year.

CREDIT: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency
CREDIT: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency

Thousands of Haitian immigrants, who fled Haiti to Brazil following the 2010 earthquake, have been showing up on the southern U.S. border in recent years. Last year, Haitians began leaving after Brazil faced an economic downturn prompted by “political unrest and falling commodity prices,” the Miami New Times reported. Once they arrived at the southern U.S. border, some Haitians were detained and sent back. Others were transferred into ICE custody where they awaited adjudication proceedings.

Last year, then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said his agency would begin sending back Haitian immigrants in the country under the Temporary Protected Status program, which grants temporary work authorization and protection for people who are unable to return back to their countries, designations generally granted in 18-month increments. But that didn’t happen when Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm, killed 1,600 and inflicted billions of dollars worth of damage to Haiti. Now, the Trump administration has quickly deported those immigrants along with other Haitian asylum seekers. At the same time, the administration could be on track to deport 59,000 Haitian TPS recipients back to their country next year.