In the first months of Donald Trump’s mass deportation force, ICE arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have nearly tripled from this same time last year, despite his repeated claims that he would only be targeting dangerous criminals and “bad hombres.” More from USA Today:
In the 100 days since President Trump signed an executive order to enhance immigration enforcement, the arrests of undocumented immigrants is up 38% from the same time period in 2016, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data released Wednesday.
ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said his agency is focusing on undocumented immigrants with criminal records, the "bad hombres" that Trump spoke about throughout his presidential campaign. But the data show that the biggest jump in arrests involved undocumented immigrants without a criminal record, a 156% increase from last year.
Between Jan. 22 and April 29, ICE arrested 10,845 people whose immigration violations were the only marks on their record. That's nearly triple the 4,242 people arrested during the same time period in President Barack Obama's final year in office.
Of all the people arrested by ICE this year, nearly 75% had a criminal record. In Obama's final year in office, 92% of people arrested by ICE in the country had a criminal record.
"I get asked a lot why we arrest somebody that’s not a criminal," Homan said. "Those who do enter the country illegally, they do violate the law, that is a criminal act."
Immigrant rights activist have been sounding the alarm for months now that this claim has always been a lie to cover for the fact that Trump and his immigration agents are in reality “targeting every immigrant they can get their hands on and calling all of them criminals.” Under Trump’s racist agenda, immigrant parents who have been using a fake document for the sole purpose of working and supporting their families (since Congress won’t pass legislation to let them work legally in the first place) are treated the same as dangerous criminals.
As America’s Voice executive director Frank Sharry said earlier today, in order to justify their inhumane actions, “these guys spin, distort, exaggerate, and dissemble almost as much as the President they work for.”
Trump’s January executive order threw any prioritization the Obama administration had previously set up out the window and made just about any violation from an undocumented immigrant, no matter how minor, justification for arrest and deportation. “Driving without a license is used as a pretext for deportation,” notes America’s Voice. “Re-entering the US to be with family is treated as a major crime.” More from USA Today:
Under Obama, undocumented immigrants had to be a gang member, convicted of a felony, or convicted of several misdemeanors to be deemed a deportation priority. Under Trump, undocumented immigrants simply have to be arrested for a crime — not convicted — to become a priority. Trump also allowed ICE agents to focus on undocumented immigrants who they deem to be a "risk to public safety or national security."
So far, those ICE has deemed to be a "risk to public safety or national security” include Maribel, an Ohio mom who was torn from her four U.S. citizen children despite having no criminal record and living in the U.S. since 2002. Nestor, an undocumented dad with no criminal record from North Carolina, is facing deportation after religiously checking in with ICE since 2004. And there are countless more future Maribels and Nestors out there, moms and dads who are just making their way to work or to pick up their kids from school, only to end up being swept up by armed agents and torn from their families. How is this making their communities safer? How is this making any of us safer?