In the first seven and a half weeks of Donald Trump's presidency, immigration arrests rose 32.6 percent, according to data obtained by the Washington Post. But though Trump's administration has claimed its overhaul of immigration laws would target only the "bad hombres," more and more reports show that simply isn't true. In fact, the latest report on increased ICE raids show many of the undocumented immigrants arrested have no criminal record, further proving Trump's immigration policies aren't about making America safe again at all.
"The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise," President Trump said in a tweet published Feb. 12. "Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!" While data shows the first few weeks of Trump's presidency did indeed bring a rise in the number of immigration arrests, reports continue to show the crackdown may not have been focused on serious criminals as Trump and his administration have claimed.
According to data obtained by CNN and the Washington Post, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 21,362 people from Jan. 20 to March 13. However, of the 675 immigrants picked up in ICE raids in early February, 177 were found to have no criminal convictions, while another 163 had only traffic offenses on their record, the Post later reported. Only 80 of those arrested by ICE in February had been convicted of assault and only two had been convicted of homicide.
In his executive order on "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," which Trump signed Jan. 25, the president lifted many Obama-era restrictions on who ICE authorities could and should deport. The executive order directs authorities to "prioritize for removal" any undocumented immigrant that has been convicted or charged with any criminal offense, is have committed "acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense," or are believed to, "in the judgement of an immigration officer, otherwise, pose a risk to public safety or national security."
The Trump administration has argued the executive order enables ICE authorities to "engage in preventative policing" and "stop terrible crimes from happening" before they occur, the Los Angeles Times has reported. But immigration advocates say the order could lead to wide scale deportations of longtime residents who have U.S.-born children, a possibility that has sparked fear within immigrant communities across the country. They've also criticized ICE authorities for targeting undocumented immigrants at courthouses, saying the practice could lead undocumented immigrants to stop reporting crimes or serving as witnesses.
Moreover, lawsuits recently filed against ICE claim agents have also detained U.S. citizens in their raids. In Colorado, a lawsuit filed earlier this year alleges immigration officers detained a U.S. citizen for three days after telling the man "you don't look like you were born" here. A second lawsuit filed in late March, alleges ICE Chicago agents arrested and detained a U.S. citizen for nearly three weeks.
Yet Trump isn't the only president to have been criticized by immigration activists. Former President Barack Obama also deported thousands of immigrants who had no criminal records, resulting in the National Council of La Raza dubbing him "the Deporter-in-Chief." In fact, though arrests fell sharply after Obama's Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson restricted immigration authorities to arresting mainly those with criminal records and those who had recently entered the country illegally, the number of immigrants arrested in the first few weeks of Trump's presidency falls short of the 29,238 immigrants arrested under President Obama in the first few weeks of 2014.
However, immigration activists claim Trump's executive order is especially problematic as it appears to have given ICE authorities free reign, leaving millions vulnerable as agents target both those with criminal records and those without. So while Trump has argued he's looking to make America safe again, others claim his immigration policies will actually wind up hurting the country in more ways than one.