Wednesday, February 21News That Matters

Following unleashing of ICE, arrests of immigrants without criminal records more than doubles

It’s been said once, it’s been said a million times: when Donald Trump and members of his administration claim Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is using American taxpayer resources to prioritize dangerous people and “bad hombres” for arrest and deportation, they’re lying to you. Since Trump unshackled his mass deportation agents via executive order after taking office last year, the largest surge in ICE arrests haven’t been people who pose a risk to public safety, but rather undocumented immigrants with no criminal convictions at all:

The agency made 37,734 “noncriminal” arrests in the government’s 2017 fiscal year, more than twice the number in the previous year. The category includes suspects facing possible charges as well as those without criminal records.

Critics say ICE is increasingly grabbing at the lowest-hanging fruit of deportation-eligible immigrants to meet the president’s unrealistic goals, replacing a targeted system with a scattershot approach aimed at boosting the agency’s enforcement statistics.  

That includes arrests resulting from what immigrant rights advocates have termed “silent raids”: “Those facing deportation who show up for periodic ‘check-ins’ with ICE to appeal for more time in the United States can no longer be confident that good behavior will spare them from detention.” In other words, immigrants just trying to follow ICE’s rules by checking in. But, “once-routine appointments now can end with the immigrants in handcuffs.”

In one recent “silent raid,” officials detained an Ohio dad who had gone to what was supposed to be a routine check-in, accompanied by Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) and noted immigration attorney David Leopold. “The first thing out of their mouth was, ‘We’re not going to beat around the bush. We’re going to take him into custody,’” said Leopold. Despite living in the U.S. for nearly four decades with no criminal record, Amer “Al” Adi Othman was deported to Jordan two weeks ago.

“Immigrants whose only crime was living in the country illegally were largely left alone during the latter years of the Obama administration,” reports The Washington Post.