Immigration arrests appear to be on the rise under President Donald Trump, compared to the last two years of the Obama administration.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21,362 immigrants, most of whom are convicted criminals, between Jan. 20 and March 13, according to statistics obtained by The Washington Post.
During that same time period in 2016, ICE made 16,104 arrests, most of whom were also convicted criminals.
The 2016 numbers were slightly lower than the numbers in 2015, when ICE arrested 18,031 immigrants. But the 2017 numbers under the Trump administration are dwarfed by the numbers of arrests made in 2014, when ICE made 29,238 arrests – nearly 8,000 of whom were of immigrants in the country illegally who had not been convicted of a crime.
ICE ‶focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,″ spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said in a statement. ‶However, as [Homeland Security] Secretary [John F.] Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.″
Immigration activists and advocates say the increase in ICE arrests shows that the Trump administration is cracking down on immigrants in an unprecedented manner.
‶My sense is that ICE is emboldened in a way that I have never seen,″ Dan Satterberg, the top prosecutor in King County, Washington. ‶The federal government, in really just a couple of months, has undone decades of work that we have done to build this trust.″
But Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a Republican who said he voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, pointed out that ICE arrests were much higher during certain years under Obama than they are now under Trump.
‶It’s all got to do with the president,″ Gimenez said of the outrage from activists and Democrat partisans. ‶Most of it has to do with politics. It’s sad.″
The Trump administration appears to relish having the reputation of coming down hard on immigrants.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said on numerous occasions that his office will fight local governments that try to implement ‶sanctuary city″ laws.
‶Sanctuary cities″ are not a defined legal term and vary greatly from city to city, but they generally refer to limiting the amount of cooperation local law enforcement has with federal agencies in regards to detaining immigrants who are in the country illegally in local jails.
"We're going to put pressure on these cities," Sessions said, according to Fox News. "We're going to battle them every step of the way."