Of the 675 immigrants picked up in nationwide raids and deported in the months after Donald Trump became president, about half either had no criminal record or had only committed traffic offenses.
The figures reveal the reality that has sent many Irish undocumented underground --- it has become a pattern that immigrants with minor or no records are no longer ignored, as they were in the later Obama years in favor of deporting criminal aliens.
However, the low numbers deported overall show how impossible it would be to deport all 11 million undocumented as Trump has claimed he will try to do. It is clearly a mission impossible.
The Washington Post reports that records provided by congressional aides reveal the backgrounds of the undocumented rounded up and targeted for deportation in early February by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York.
According to the data, two individuals had been convicted of homicide, 80 had been convicted of assault, and 57 had convictions for “dangerous drugs;” however, 163 immigrants were convicted of traffic offenses, with over 90 percent of those cases involving drunken driving. A group of 177 individuals had no criminal convictions, although 66 of these had charges pending, but these were primarily immigration or traffic offenses.
The immigration roundup, part of an initiative called Operation Cross Check, accounted for a small number of the 21,362 undocumented immigrants the Trump administration took into custody for deportation proceedings from January through mid-March.
The total number of deportation arrests during that two-month period shows a 32 percent increase in arrests over the same period last year. Administration officials have said that the majority of the individuals arrested are criminals. However, 5,441 were not criminals, which is twice the number of non-criminal immigrants arrested for deportation a year ago.
While President Trump has vowed to first deport serious criminals from the U.S., critics of the administration have said that immigration agents are also targeting students and minor offenders.
“That makes me so angry,” said Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement. Matos says that most of the DUI convictions are several 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 Obama also deported thousands of people who had no criminal record, but towards the end of his administration he imposed new rules prioritizing the arrest of criminals, reports The Washington Post.
Officials have stressed that anyone in the country 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.”
Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors limits on immigration, said: “Those are legitimate reasons to remove people. 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.”
Secretary Kelly, who has been criticized by Democrats for not being forthcoming about his department’s moves to implement Trump’s immigration policy, fired back at his critics during a speech at George Washington University last week.
“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,’’ he said. “Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.’’
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said that despite frustrations over the immigration policy, Democrats are unable to change laws because they don’t currently control Congress, and Kelly's approach wasn’t "constructive."
He added: “That kind of language ought to be jettisoned,"