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. 

Daniel Ramirez Medina, detained by ICE for six weeks last year, fights to win back DACA status

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Trump administration officials from the top down keep insisting that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients have nothing to worry about, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have already been targeting them for arrest and deportation. Last year, Seattle resident Daniel Ramirez Medina became one of the first DACA recipients of the Trump era to be arrested by ICE, when he was swept up in a raid that was initially targeting his dad. He was finally released from custody six weeks later, but not before being falsely accused of gang affiliations and stripped of his DACA protections. Now he’s fighting to win them back:

Last year, Ramirez’s lawyers—one of whom is a DACA recipient himself—argued that Ramirez was unlawfully detained and denied due process. On Tuesday, those lawyers filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to restore Ramirez’s DACA status while the lawsuit is pending.

“Quite simply, Daniel must have his DACA status restored because it never should have been removed in the first place,” said Ethan Dettmer, a member of Ramirez’s legal team, said in a statement. “Daniel is the father of a U.S. citizen, and the government admits Daniel is not a threat to public safety, yet he was kept behind bars for six weeks and is being deprived of the ability to earn a living and support his family.”

“Daniel should have the benefits that the government promised him—the right to work and support his family and the right to not live in fear of arbitrary arrest,” Dettmer said. And it’s not just Ramirez Medina, but hundreds of thousands of other DACA recipients who signed up for the program in good faith, only to have the federal government rip the ground out from under them.

Ice Dancing Siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani Earn Audience Raves at Their 2018 Olympic Debut

To audible audience joy, siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani skated to second place in the short dance at the first half of the 2018 Winter Olympics‘ figure skating team event on Sunday morning. But they left the rink a little disappointed with their scores, they told reporters.

Speaking to PEOPLE minutes after leaving the ice, Alex, 26, reflected on the craziness of competing on an Olympic staged, watched by the world.

“We just saw Hoda and Al from the Today show sitting in the crowd and we’re like, ‘Oh this is cool, like they’re not at every competition we do,’ ” he says. “We saw Michelle Kwan sitting in the stands with her mom.”

“We see faces in the crowd that we recognize and that’s special,” Alex tells PEOPLE. “I think a lot of athletes, well I can’t speak for everyone, but some people are really in the zone and we know how to be in the zone while also embracing  the moment and looking around us and having these memories that we’ll have for the rest of our lives. … It’s just a special feeling and to be out there the two of us, that’s always special wherever we are.”

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Alex and younger sister Maia, 23, dominated nearly all of their competitors at the short dance portion of the team event in Gangneung, South Korea, on Friday morning (which was aired live in primetime in the U.S., on NBC).

Performing seventh out of 10, their total score of 75.46 shot them more than 10 points ahead of second place at the time they skated, and the crowd had clearly been won over by the end. Then Italy, Canada, and the Olympic athletes from Russia, competing in the eighth, ninth and 10th slots, also made a strong showing — but the “Shib sibs” held on, ultimately coming in behind only Canadians Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue.

“Yeah, I thought we brought it,” Alex told reporters after skating.

Maia echoed that, saying:

“I mean the audience, you guys can hear it, they’re amazing. The energy is unlike any other event we’ve bene in. So I feel like Alex and I really just took the time to enjoy the moment and I’m really proud of the skating we showed today.”

It was good enough to keep Team USA in the top five, meaning they will likely qualify for the second half of the event when the men, women, pairs and ice dancers from the top five countries so far will all perform their free skate or dance.

Still, despite that success, Alex said they were “a little surprised by the score, to be honest.”

He explained: “We’ve been accustomed to receiving stronger scores with skates that maybe weren’t even as strong as today’s, so we’ll have to go back and see what the panel saw and how they determined our scores.”

“So that’s a little bit disappointing — but overall we’re just so psyched with our skate, and that’s what we came here to do and looking forward to the rest of the competition,” Alex said.

The figure skating team event continues Friday morning with ladies singles, including a short program from American teen Bradie Tennell, who has shot from relative obscurity to Olympian in a matter of months.

'Shib Sibs' Ice Dancing Duo Alex and Maia Shibutani on Their Olympic Training and Lifelong Bond

The Shib Sibs are back!

Brother and sister Alex and Maia Shibutani were breakout stars of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Now, they’re eager to snag a top spot at the PyeongChang Games this month.

“We feel really good and excited heading into our second Olympic games,” Maia, 23, tells PEOPLE. “We learned so much from our first experience in Sochi. It inspired us a lot, but since then our career has really taken off.”

The sibling duo finished ninth in Sochi, but Alex, 26, says he and his sister left the Games more focused than ever.

“We came away incredibly motivated,” Maia tells PEOPLE. “We knew that our goals and our sights were set on 2018 and that gave us four years to develop our craft and really grow as people.”

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

She adds: “We focused on a lot of the work on the ice, but then we also just took our skating to a whole other level by reaching outside of our lane and really collaborating with incredible people.”

In 2018, along with performing Mambo, cha-cha and Zumba numbers, the pair will do a free dance to Coldplay’s “Paradise” — a nod to their headline-making number to the group’s hit track “Fix You” performed last year at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

“That was at a moment in our career when we really needed to find ourselves,” Alex said of the win. “It’s nice to be back to Coldplay, but we’re doing it in a completely different way.”

The duo has been performing together for more than a decade, and Alex says that what makes the two special is their relationship both on and off the ice.

“We often get asked is it harder to be a brother and sister in ice dance and there are always challenges but I think that what sets us apart makes us unique,” he tells PEOPLE.

2018 Olympic Winter Game Hopefuls Talk the Power of Sports & the NFL National Anthem Controversy

“Maia and I have always had a really great relationship,” he also says. “I remember being really excited to have a younger sister because I think I knew that I would have a friend. And we’ve been friends ever since.”

“We’re a really balanced team in that respect. I understand the things that Maia does really well and she understands the things that I do well and so being able to combine those things makes us a really formidable team and I think that gives us an edge over the competition.”

REPORTING by ADAM CARLSON

What's the Difference Between Ice Dancing and Figure Skating? Olympian Evan Bates Explains

The Winter Olympics are here and buzz surrounding the worldwide competition is heating up.

For many fans, figure skating events are an Olympic highlight, but every four years many people seem to have the same question: What’s the difference between figure skating and ice dancing?

The short answer is that ice dancing falls under the broader umbrella category of figure skating.

Leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics, PEOPLE sat down with 2018 Olympic ice dancer Evan Bates, whose partner is Madison Chock, to clarify some of the differences between figure skating and ice dancing.

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“Ice dancing has more restrictions,” Evan Bates explained to PEOPLE. “We can only do lifts that are below the head so I can’t raise my hands above my head, which is a really easy distinction when you’re trying to differentiate between pairs and ice dancing.”

According to Shape.com, ice dancing places more importance on having a graceful and entertaining routine compared to figure skating, which focuses more on jumps, lifts and spins. Figure skaters are scored based on connecting their footwork for all of their various moves, but ice dancers are evaluated by the precision of their moves.

RELATED VIDEO: Olympic Hopeful Figure Skaters Show You How to End a ‘Perfect Performance’ in 5 Steps

“We’re really more like ballroom dancers,” Bates explained. “We’re interpreting music, putting a lot of emphasis on the connection between the couple and on the connection to the music.”

Ice dancers work together in pairs to complete their routine, and the music that they dance to must have a steady rhythm for skating.

San Diego Ice Arena coach and former ice dancer Justin Ross told NBC San Diego that while pairs figure skating is recognized by its throws and jumps, ice dancing pairs are scored more on how they move together as one. For example, if one dancer moves or spins at a slightly different pace than their partner, it could mean huge point deductions.

Ross continued to explain that pairs figure skating is all about the heavy lifting and jumps, placing an emphasis on over-the-head lifts, triple jumps and throws — all things you won’t see in an ice dancing routine.

The 2018 Winter Olympics will air live starting Feb. 8. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.

Married American Figure Skaters Celebrate Season-Best Olympic Performance with a Kiss on the Ice

Married pairs figure skaters Alexa and Chris Knierim sealed their season-best performance, on Friday morning at the 2018 Winter Olympics, with a kiss on the ice — and a chorus of “awwws” from the audience in the arena (and probably around the world).

“When we kissed, in the back of my mind I was like: We’re on Olympic ice. It’s still such a big deal, we’re still like kids taking it in,” Alexa tells PEOPLE only minutes after leaving the rink.

She says once she heard the audience’s reaction to the couple’s smooch, “I was like, ‘Chris do one more!’ ”

The Knierims, first-time Olympians who started skating together in 2012 and wed in June 2016, had “hands down” their best short program of the season when they took to the ice for the team skating event on Friday morning in Gangneung, South Korea, Chris later told reporters.

Their final score of 69.75 earned them the top spot for a time until Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford bumped them to No. 2. They eventually landed in fourth, behind Canada, Germany and Russia.

In the team event, men, women, pairs and ice dancers from 10 top countries all perform the first of two programs; the five best nations from those performances advance to the second routine from each of the four categories — and the top three medal.

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Alexa and Chris, 26 and 30 respectively, came into the Winter Games this week fresh off their second national pairs title. They were clearly exulting in their success at the Olympics, which helped sustain Team USA’s medal chances after a disappointing fall from Nathan Chen in the men’s short program earlier in the day.

Speaking to press after skating, the Knierims both said they were more calm than nervous on the world stage, with Chris noting it was going through nationals and making the cut for Team USA that was the more tense experience.

“Coming here, you know, this is the cherry on top,” he said. “We’ve had a tough couple of years and this is just something really special.”

Not long before their wedding two years ago, Alexa was diagnosed with a rare, potentially fatal gastrointestinal condition from which she later recovered.

Should the U.S. qualify for the free skate and free dance, the Knierims will be back at the Gangneung Ice Arena before they return again to compete for the pairs medal.

“We’re here for the team and everything, but we’re also here just to kind of do our best,” Alexa said. “And if that helps the team, then we did our job.”

An emboldened ICE reportedly wants to become a part of the U.S. intelligence community

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be able to join the U.S. Intelligence Community and get access to spy agency secrets and tools that would help them surveil millions of Americans regardless of their immigration status” is something no decent person has ever said, but ICE officials emboldened under the mass deportation policies of Donald Trump’s administration are actively exploring the possibility:

Internal advocates for joining the America’s spy agencies—known as the Intelligence Community or the IC—focus on the potential benefits to the agency’s work on counterproliferation, money laundering, counterterror, and cybercrime. The official added that joining the IC could also be useful for the agency’s immigration enforcement work––in particular, their efforts to find and arrest undocumented immigrants with criminal arrest warrants (known in ICE as fugitive aliens).

But civil liberties advocates and government watchdog groups—as well as some current and former U.S. officials—are concerned at the prospect of the nation’s immigration enforcers joining the ranks of America’s spies.

“The idea that ICE could potentially get access to warrantless surveillance is frankly terrifying,” said Jake Laperruque of the Project on Government Oversight. Under Trump, agents have commonly disregarded the rule of law and taken frightening steps to speed up arrests, including plans to collect the social media information of immigrants and obtaining technology that would allow them access to license plate information all over the U.S. But apparently, that’s not enough. Patrick Toomey of the American Civil Liberties Union:

“The prospect of ICE joining the Intelligence Community, if true, should sound alarm bells,” he said. “Such a move threatens to give an agency responsible for domestic immigration enforcement access to a vast pool of sensitive information collected by our spy agencies for foreign intelligence purposes. Those spying tools do not belong in the hands of ICE agents.”

Of course, officials will argue that vastly expanded powers would help track national security threats and “transnational crimes, including drug trafficking, money laundering, cybercrimes, and arms trafficking,” but it’s abuse of these powers and the targeting of both immigrant families and U.S.-born families that should worry all. After all, the leaders of this administration keep claiming that it’s thugs and “bad hombres” that are getting swept up. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient arrested for taking a wrong turn says otherwise.