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Pew Research Report: ICE Arrests Up 30% Nationwide in FY 2017

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According to a new Pew Research report, ICE arrests in FY 2017 were up 30% nationwide over the previous year, marking a three-year high in which the largest percentage increases were in Florida, Dallas, and Oklahoma.

According to the report:

ICE made a total of 143,470 arrests in fiscal 2017, a 30% rise from fiscal 2016. The surge began after President Donald Trump took office in late January: From his Jan. 20 inauguration to the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, ICE made 110,568 arrests, 42% more than in the same time period in 2016.

The increase in ICE arrest numbers came as no surprise to immigration reform advocates, who in the last year saw a spike in the arrests, detentions, and deportations of immigrants who were not removal priorities. Shortly after Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he vacated deportation priorities set in place by the Obama Administration, which protected immigrants who had not committed major crimes. With no deportation priorities in place, Trump began deporting mothers and fathers without criminal records, who had lived in the U.S. for decades, and who were raising U.S. citizen children.

Mother Jones, in December, wrote about how ICE under the Trump Administration is now arresting immigrants who have done nothing but be in the country without papers by the thousands. ICE calls these “administrative arrests”, and there was a 30% increase in this category between FY 2016 and 2017. Even among those that ICE arrested who had records, a large percentage were found to only have traffic infractions rather than major criminal history.

Different regions of the country reported different percentage increases in ICE arrests between 2016 and 2017. There was no region that reported a decrease in arrests. Even though the regions are named for the location of the ICE field office that oversees the region, each listing below actually encompasses an ICE target area encompassing whole states. According to the Pew Research report:

  • The Miami ICE field office region saw a 76% year over year increase in ICE arrests
  • Dallas region — 71%
  • St. Paul, Minneapolis  region — 67%
  • New Orleans, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit regions — more than 50%
  • Phoenix and El Paso regions — 20%

The report also noted the increase in arrests by absolute numbers. Dallas saw the highest increase, with 6,886 more immigrants arrested than the previous fiscal year. Houston and Atlanta were in second and third place, followed by Chicago, San Antonio, and Los Angeles.

The Pew Report also noted that while ICE arrests are up significantly in FY 2017, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrests are down 25%. This could be because border crossings are at a decades-long-low — making Trump’s demands for greater border enforcement and a thousands-of-miles-long border wall pointless. Or it could be a reflection of the Department of Homeland Security’s new interest in collapsing border security and interior enforcement. As DHS Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke said in January, “we used to distinguish between border security and interior enforcement. Now we’re lumping it all under border security.” This potentially means that any future border security funding might be used to enhance interior enforcement and Trump’s deportation force, further boosting ICE arrests and removal numbers.