Under Trump arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have tripled

(Aug. 13, 2018) Federal arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have more than tripled under President Donald Trump and may still be accelerating, according to an NBC News analysis of Immigration and Customs Enforcement data from his first 14 months in office.

The surge has been caused by a new ICE tactic of arresting — without warrants — people who are driving or walking down the street and using large-scale “sweeps” of likely immigrants, according to a class-actionlawsuit filed in June by immigration rights advocates in Chicago.

ICE “administrative” arrests of immigrants without criminal convictions have spiked 203 percent in the first full 14 months of his presidency compared to the final 14 months of the Obama administration, growing from 19,128 to 58,010, according to NBC’s review of ICE figures. During the same time period, the numbers show that arrests of undocumented immigrants with criminal records grew just 18 percent.

An administrative arrest is an arrest for civil violation of immigration law. An ICE spokesperson said that a “criminal” conviction in this context can mean any misdemeanor or felony from jaywalking to murder, including previous immigration offenses.

The pace of arrests of immigrants without criminal convictions may be picking up. From the seven months ended March 31, the most recent period for which numbers are available, ICE arrested 16 percent more non-criminals than in the seven months from Feb. 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2017, while arresting nine percent fewer criminals.

One of the attorneys filing suit, Mark Fleming, associate director of litigation at the Immigrant Justice Center, says he believes many of the kinds of arrests that ICE is making under President Donald Trump are completely new.

“What’s really different about this enforcement action is that they are literally doing roving stops, whether by car or on foot, stopping people without any sort of articulable facts,” Fleming said. “It sends a message to the Hispanic community that we intend to racially profile you in your communities.”

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Ben Leonard