In the first weeks of President Trump's tenure, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made 32.6 percent more arrests than a year earlier — 21,326 undocumented immigrants arrested from Jan. 20 to March 13, versus 16,104 in the same period a year earlier — and 5,441 of those immigrants had no criminal record, The Washington Post reports. The number of immigrants with criminal records was up 15 percent, but the arrests of immigrants with no criminal criminal record more than doubled, or even tripled at some field offices.
Overall, deportations were down 1.2 percent in that same January to mid-March period, at 54,741 people deported, but while deportations of immigrants with criminal records fell, the number of noncriminals deported actually rose. ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said it can take time to deport people; some countries, like China, have not been willing to take their citizens back.
Trump has also just begun his push to increase staffing at ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CPB) — the Department of Homeland Security is working out ways to quickly create Trump's nationwide deportation force, according to internal documents, including identifying 33,000 more detention beds, and the CPB's U.S. Border Patrol is looking to ease its hiring requirements, since 60 percent of its applicants fail at required polygraph test, The Wall Street Journal reports. ("The polygraph has given us a difficult time," Border Patrol Chief Ronald Vitiello said last week. "Not a lot of people are passing.")
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The big change under Trump isn't necessarily the numbers, however — immigrant advocates called former President Barack Obama the "deporter in chief," especially before he shifted focus to new immigrants and those with criminal records in late 2014, and The Washington Post notes that Trump's numbers so far are lower than Obama's in 2014.
It's the tactics Trump's ICE agents use — arresting immigrants in state and local courthouses and on the way to work, as well as apparently targeting immigrant advocates who speak out — that has struck terror into immigrant communities. "My sense is that ICE is emboldened in a way that I have never seen," Dan Satterberg, the top prosecutor in Seattle and King County, said last week. "The federal government, in really just a couple of months, has undone decades of work that we have done to build this trust."
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