Records provided by congressional aides to The Washington Post paint a small but detailed snapshot of the illegal immigrants being arrested under the administration of President Donald Trump, the newspaper reported Friday.
The Post called the data “the most detailed look yet,” and breaks down how many people were arrested for being in the U.S. illegally, who had committed crimes and what those crimes were. The data involves a roundup called Operation Cross Check and the period covers early February.
Of the 675 immigrants included in the data who were detained and targeted for deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, 177 had no criminal convictions, although charges were pending in 66 of those cases involving immigration or traffic offenses.
Among the more serious offenders, 80 had been convicted of assault, 57 were convicted of “dangerous drugs” and two people were convicted of homicide. The largest single group of the total showed 163 had been convicted of traffic offenses, with over 90 percent involving drunken driving, according to ICE, The Post reported.
The 675 people in the raid represent a small part of the 21,362 immigrants rounded up into custody for deportation from January through the middle of March of this year. This total marks a 32 percent jump over the same period last year.
However, The Post pointed out that former President Barack Obama also deported thousands of people with no criminal convictions, but “toward the end of his administration, he imposed strict new rules that prioritized the arrest of criminals.”
Critics argue the arrests include students, minor offenders and parents of U.S. citizens who have no criminal record. Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, maintained many of the convictions were years old.
“(The data) confirms our worst fears, which is that this administration is really trying to deport as many as possible, regardless of whether they have a criminal record,” Matos said.
Jennifer Elzea, ICE spokeswoman, said Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly had stated the U.S. would “no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
“All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found, removable by final order, removal from the United States,” she said.
Democrats have grown wary of Kelly’s motivations, the article explained, but Kelly, a retired Marine general, addressed critics last week in a speech at George Washington University.
“If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to enforce, then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws,” Kelly said. “Otherwise, they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., maintained on Friday that Kelly’s posture “wasn’t a constructive way to deal with Congress,” adding, “That kind of language ought to be jettisoned.”
The director of policy for the Center for Immigration Studies, Jessica M. Vaughan, said ICE was doing its job.
“Those are legitimate reasons to remove people,” she said. “ICE officers are no longer operating under the restraints imposed by the Obama administration. They’re not forced to look the other way when they encounter people who are removable.”
Trump is following through on a campaign promise in his efforts to secure public safety in the U.S. through his immigration initiatives. Officials said, though the emphasis was on deporting criminals, anyone in the U.S. illegally could face deportation.
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