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4/28: ICE data shows half of immigrants arrested in raids had traffic convictions or no record
Released 12 June 2017  By Maria Sacchetti, Ed O'Keefe - Washington Post

ICE data shows half of immigrants arrested in raids had traffic convictions or no record

Maria Sacchetti, Ed O'Keefe - Washington Post
April 28, 2017

About half of the 675 immigrants picked up in roundups across the United
States in the days after President Trump took office either had no
criminal convictions or had committed traffic offenses, mostly drunken
driving, as their most serious crimes, according to data obtained by The
Washington Post.

Records provided by congressional aides Friday offered the most detailed
look yet at the backgrounds of the individuals rounded up and targeted for
deportation in early February by Immigration and Customs Enforcement
agents assigned to regional offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San
Antonio and New York.

Two people had been convicted of homicide, 80 had been convicted of
assault, and 57 had convictions for “dangerous drugs.” Many of the most
serious criminals were given top billing in ICE news statements about the
operation.

The largest single group — 163 immigrants convicted of traffic offenses —
was mentioned only briefly. Over 90 percent of those cases involved
drunken driving, ICE said Friday. Of those taken into custody in the
raids, 177 had no criminal convictions at all, though 66 had charges
pending, largely immigration or traffic offenses.

The raids were part of a nationwide immigration roundup dubbed Operation
Cross Check, which accounts for a small portion of the 21,362 immigrants
the Trump administration took into custody for deportation proceedings
from January through mid-March.

Rebecca Wood with 4-yr-old daughter Charlie Wood protested the ICE raids
in front of the White House on Feb. 11. (Linda Davidson/The Washington
Post)
The two-month total represents a 32 percent increase in deportation
arrests over the same period last year. Most are criminals, administration
officials have said. But 5,441 were not criminals, double the number of
undocumented immigrants arrested for deportation a year earlier. The
administration has released a detailed breakdown of the criminal records
only of the raids in early February.

Trump has said that public safety threats are his top priority. Shortly
after he was elected, he vowed to first deport serious criminals from the
United States.

But critics say immigration agents instead have also targeted students,
parents of U.S. citizens who do not have serious criminal records and
minor offenders.

“That makes me so angry,” said Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the Fair
Immigration Reform Movement, which is organizing demonstrations Monday to
protest Trump’s immigration policies. She said that many of the DUI
convictions are years-old and that 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.”

President Barack Obama also deported thousands of people who never
committed crimes, but toward the end of his administration, he imposed
strict new rules that prioritized the arrest of criminals.

The Trump administration has said the current president also wants to
prioritize deporting criminals. But officials add that anyone in the
United States illegally could be detained and deported.

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

ICE arrested immigrants across the United States in February as part of
Operation Cross Check, an initiative that seeks to detain immigrants that
also occurred during the Obama administration.

Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for
Immigration Studies, which favors limits on immigration, said ICE is
properly enforcing immigration laws by arresting criminals and people in
the United States without papers.

“Those are legitimate reasons to remove people,” she said. “ICE officers
are no longer operating under the restraints imposed by the Obama
administration. They’re not forced to look the other way when they
encounter people who are removable.”

Congressional aides said the information from ICE follows months of
frustration from lawmakers that the agency is not responding fast enough
to requests for information.

After initially being supportive of Kelly, many Democrats have turned on
him, believing he is being less than forthcoming about his sprawling
department’s moves to implement Trump’s immigration policy.

Kelly, a retired Marine general, shot back at congressional critics last
week in a speech at George Washington University.

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“If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to
enforce, then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws,’’
Kelly said. “Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women
on the front lines.’’

That kind of approach “wasn’t a constructive way to deal with Congress,”
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said in an interview Friday.
Democrats, he said, are frustrated by Trump’s immigration policies but are
unable to change laws because they don’t currently control Congress.

“That kind of language ought to be jettisoned,” Hoyer said.

Maria Sacchetti is the Post immigration reporter. She previously reported
for The Boston Globe.Follow @mariasacchetti

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter who has covered congressional and
presidential politics since 2008. He previously covered federal agencies,
the federal workforce and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.
Follow @edatpost.Follow @edatpost


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