Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested more than 41,000 suspected undocumented immigrants in the early months of the Trump administration, the agency announced Wednesday.
The number is a 38% jump from the same period of time in 2016, when 30,028 were taken into custody.
Of those arrested between Jan. 22 and April 29, roughly 10,800 were “non-criminal arrests,” which ICE said reflected the Trump administration’s new practice of no longer exempting certain immigrants for deportations if they are found to be living in the country unlawfully.
The amount of immigrants with no criminal record who were arrested this year is a substantial jump from the same period of time in 2016, when just 4,200 arrests made by ICE were non-criminal.
“These statistics reflect President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board,” ICE acting director Thomas Homan said in a statement.
“ICE agents and officers have been given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the arrest of convicted aliens. However, when we encounter others who are in the country unlawfully, we will execute our sworn duty and enforce the law.”
Nearly 75% of the ICE arrests under the Trump administration were for convicted criminals, according to the agency. The offenses range in severity, and ICE reported that violent crimes such as homicide, rape, kidnapping, and assault comprised more than 2,700 of the crimes for which the immigrants were convicted.
The data follows earlier reporting by The Washington Post that found that of 675 immigrants ICE arrested in raids in early February, half had no criminal convictions, or had at most committed traffic violations. According to the data obtained by the Post, 177 had no criminal record but 66 of those had mostly traffic-related charges pending, 163 had traffic-related convictions such as drunk driving, 57 were convicted for “dangerous drugs,” 80 for assault, and two for homicide.
The amount of immigrants with criminal convictions who were arrested by ICE rose 20% from the same period in 2016, the agency said.
But over the entire final year of President Barack Obama’s term, 92% of the people ICE arrested had been convicted of crimes, according to ICE data.
This year’s spike in arrests follows ongoing efforts by the Trump administration to empower immigration enforcement officers, crack down on illegal immigration, heighten border security, and punish so-called “sanctuary cities” that implement policies to protect immigrants.
Although several of Trump’s immigration-related efforts have become tangled up in court battles and blocked by federal judges, including the now-infamous travel ban, immigration advocates have reported that widespread fear has taken hold in communities with large populations of undocumented immigrants.
Local officials across the country, including police chiefs, prosecutors, and mayors, have reported that some undocumented immigrants are too fearful of deportation to report crimes, testify in court, or even venture into public spaces such as schools and hospitals.