Approximately half of the unauthorised immigrants targeted in a set of deportation raids in February have no criminal records or traffic offenses, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data obtained by The Washington Post.
Of the 675 immigrants detained in the raids, 163 had been convicted of traffic violations — 90% of those cases involved drunk driving.
Meanwhile, 177 immigrants had no criminal records, though the Post notes that 66 had traffic- or immigration-related charges pending. 2 had homicide convictions, 80 were convicted of assault, and 57 had convictions for “dangerous drugs.”
The February raids, which took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, and New York, were part of an operation called Operation Cross Check.
In total, 21,362 immigrants have been brought into custody from when Trump took office in January to mid-March. The Trump administration has said that most of those rounded up were criminals, while 5441 were not. The total number of immigrants arrested for deportation by this time in 2016 was approximately 2500.
Of those immigrants that were criminals, it’s not clear how many were convicted of minor offenses or more serious crimes. The Trump administration has only released a detailed breakdown of criminal records for the 675 immigrants targeted in the early February raids.
Trump has long articulated an “America First” stance on immigration, notably kicking off his presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants criminals, “rapists,” and drug dealers.
Throughout the 2016 election, Trump pledged to move quickly to deport the millions of unauthorised immigrants who live in the US. “We have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out,” he said during the third presidential debate last October.
He later changed his position and said that he would focus on deporting those with criminal records.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions — an immigration hardliner and one of Trump’s earliest surrogates — reiterated Trump’s position in March, saying that the US would not go after immigrants with clean records.
But ICE data examined by the Post seems to contradict those statements, critics say.
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,” Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, told the Post.
Despite the president’s and attorney-general’s assurances, Trump’s administration has repeatedly cracked down on unauthorised immigrants, as well as the jurisdictions that protect them.
In March, the Trump administration started releasing reports publicly naming counties that refused to honour federal requests to detain people who were suspected of being unauthorised immigrants. It later halted the weekly reports following sustained criticism from jurisdictions and immigration advocates who said the reports were an attempt to intimidate and shame so-called “sanctuary cities.”
In April, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration planned to roll back certain protections for detained immigrants as part of its effort to combat unauthorised immigration.
Later that month, the administration deported 23-year-old Juan Manuel Montes, who was granted protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was created under Barack Obama. Trump’s sign-off on the decision represented a reversal on his earlier statement that he would not deport those who had been brought to the US as children and were afforded protection under DACA.
Trump also signed an executive order which threatened to cut federal funding from “sanctuary cities,” though the order was blocked last week by Judge William Orrick, who ruled that it was unconstitutional.
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