REPORT: Many undocumented immigrants recently rounded up by ICE agents had no criminal convictions

Roughly half of the 675 immigrants arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in February had either no criminal convictions, or had at most committed traffic violations, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.

Of these:

  • Two immigrants had been convicted of homicide
  • 80 immigrants had been convicted of assault
  • 57 immigrants had been convicted for “dangerous drugs”
  • 163 immigrants had been convicted of traffic offenses — of these, 90% were for drunk driving
  • 177 of them had no criminal convictions; however, 66 had charges pending, most of which were traffic-related

From January to mid-March, the Trump administration was reported to have detained 21,362 immigrants for deportation proceedings. The amount of arrests were a 32% increase from last year, according to The Post. And while the administration said most of them were criminals, 5,441 of them were found by the Post to not be criminals.

“That makes me so angry,” said Kica Matos, the spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, an organisation advocating for immigrant rights. Matos claims that the figures “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,” The Post reported.

The report comes during a worrisome era for undocumented immigrants, who have faced the looming threat of deportation from the Trump administration’s policies. The Obama administration’s official line was that federal authorities would not prioritise the deportation of undocumented immigrants with no criminal history — although, in practice, many immigrants with no criminal history were still deported. The Trump administration has said that Obama’s policies and rhetoric stymied the department’s efforts to ensure the safety of US citizens.

“I think their morale has suffered because of the job they were hired to do, and then in their sense, they’re … kind of hobbled or, you know, hands tied behind their back, that kind of thing,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said. “And now, they feel more positive about things. I bet if you watch the morale issue, you’ll … be surprised going forward.”

“As Secretary Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said. “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.”

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