Making good on a promise to overturn Obama-era immigration policies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests increased 38 percent during the first three months of the Trump administration.
''These statistics reflect President Trump's commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board,'' said ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan.
The increase reflects arrests made not at the border, but in U.S. cities, so called 'interior enforcement,” something critics say almost disappeared in the last year of the Obama Administration.
According to the Department of Homeland Security:
* ICE has arrested more than 41,000 individuals who are either known or suspected of being in the country illegally. This reflects an increase of 37.6 percent over the same period in 2016.
* Nearly 75 percent of those arrested during this period in 2017 are convicted criminals, with offenses ranging from homicide and assault to sexual abuse and drug-related charges.
* The arrest of aliens at-large in the community increased by more than 50 percent.
* The arrest of convicted illegal immigrants climbed nearly 20 percent
* The arrest of non-criminal illegal immigrants rose 150 percent, to 10,800 since the beginning of the year compared to 4,200 in the same period in 2016.
The arrest of non-criminal illegal immigrants is controversial. To advocates, entering the U.S. illegally is a civil crime not worth punishing.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck believes shielding illegal immigrants from deportation increases the likelihood they'll cooperate with police in catching criminal aliens. He raised the point during a news conference following the arrest of 44 members of the brutal gang MS-13, half of whom are in the U.S. illegally.
"Many of witnesses that allowed us to do this by their statements – also have immigration issues," said Beck. "You could say sanctuary policies make us successful (because) we get people to talk."
The Los Angeles Police Commission is considering a proposal to ignore crimes like loitering, graffiti, and sleeping in cars to counter immigrant fears that ICE will track police arrests, leading to their deportation for minor crimes. But opponents blame such policies for the rise in non-criminal immigrant arrests.
"Numerous law enforcement agencies have taken the step to not even honor detainers and that makes it extremely difficult for us," says Los Angeles ICE Director Dave Marin. "They're just letting these individuals, convicted criminal aliens, and they're letting them out the door."
That forces agents to conduct fugitive operations on the streets and in the workplace, whereas in the past ICE could pick criminal aliens up directly from jail.
Now, Marin says, agents encounter more spouses, relatives and co-workers who did not commit crime but were here illegally. Unlike the Obama administration, which used “prosecutorial discretion” to release non-criminals illegal immigrants, ICE under Trump does not, which explains the 150 percent increase.
In January, at his inauguration, President Trump said: "A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders."
The new arrest numbers support that claim, as many at the Department of Homeland Security say border security doesn't start at the border, but in cities, where actual enforcement leads to deterrence.