In January, President Trump signed an executive order giving more latitude to immigration authorities to target individuals living in the country illegally. The results of his crackdown on unauthorized immigrants are becoming clear: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement arm, announced Wednesday that immigration arrests increased by nearly 40 percent compared to the same period last year.
“These statistics reflect President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board,” said ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan 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 criminal aliens. However, when we encounter others who are in the country unlawfully, we will execute our sworn duty and enforce the law.”
But expanding the criteria for arrests also puts a strain on the nation’s immigration courts, which are already backlogged. Homan said that “all of those arrested will receive the due process afforded to them under the law.” He added: “ICE will take action to remove individuals subject to a final order by a federal immigration judge.” With removal proceedings moving at a glacial pace, deportations have actually dipped by 12 percent this year—while more undocumented immigrants are being arrested, fewer are actually being removed. Detainees, therefore, continue to be held in facilities across the country—facilities which may soon be overwhelmed.