The Trump administration’s approach to immigration enforcement is seriously impacting noncitizens and citizens around the country.
A new report by the American Immigration Council highlights how the administration’s indiscriminate, aggressive enforcement approach has created new categories of individuals who are more vulnerable to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) encounters, arrest, and potential deportation. Since President Trump took office in 2017, U.S. citizens and women have become increasingly subjected to immigration enforcement actions.
The report draws on ICE records on 1,199,026 encounters, 381,370 arrests, and 650,944 removals that occurred between January 2016 and September 2018. The data was obtained through Freedom of Information Act litigation.
Specific findings in the report include:
- The number of U.S. citizens encountered by ICE jumped from 5,940 during the last year of the Obama administration to 27,540 during the first year of the Trump administration. This suggests that certain U.S. citizens who may “appear deportable” have become increasingly vulnerable to enforcement actions.
- Proportionally, ICE encountered and arrested more women during the first part of the Trump administration than it did at the end of the Obama administration.
- During the report’s timeframe, over 85 percent of all removals under both administrations involved individuals either with no criminal convictions or only non-violent convictions.
- The volume of custodial arrests (those conducted in a jail or prison) and at-large arrests (those conducted in the community) increased during the first year of the Trump administration—compared to the last year of the Obama administration.
- The largest percent increases in the number of at-large arrests occurred in the ICE Areas of Responsibility (AORs) in Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Phoenix. AORs are large regions over which ICE field offices have jurisdiction.
- Both in the last part of the Obama administration and the first part of the Trump administration, over 70 percent of encounters and over 60 percent of arrests were conducted through the Criminal Alien Program (CAP). This program supports ICE in the identification, arrest, and removal of individuals incarcerated within federal, state, and local prisons and jails.
The Trump administration has cast a wider enforcement net in its search for individuals who may be deportable from the United States. To achieve this, it has broadened who is considered a priority for enforcement, sought to eliminate humanitarian protections that shielded hundreds of thousands of noncitizens from enforcement action, and expanded ICE’s reach within communities.
Given the nature of the administration’s immigration enforcement agenda, it is not surprising that the overall number of encounters and arrests has increased since President Trump took office.
Some trends, however, are unanticipated and raise concerns—such as the increased vulnerability of those who may “look deportable,” women, and individuals in certain regions of the country.
As the president vows to conduct mass immigration arrests and deportation, some of the trends highlighted in this report might soon become even more pronounced.