U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests are up substantially under President Trump. ICE published a statement on its website highlighting the increase since the president signed an executive order on immigration enforcement in January:
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.
Between Jan. 22 and April 29, 2017, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) deportation officers administratively arrested 41,318 individuals on civil immigration charges. Between Jan. 24 and April 30, 2016, ERO arrested 30,028.
Acting Director Thomas Homan says of the arrests, “ICE agents and officers have been given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the arrest of convicted criminal aliens. However, when we encounter others who are in the country unlawfully, we will execute our sworn duty and enforce the law.”
That latter point has been a major concern for immigration activists who are concerned about people being swept up in an ICE sweep despite having committed no crime. Acting director Homan says nearly 75% of those arrested are convicted criminals, but Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund, disputes that. He tells the LA Times, “These guys spin, distort, exaggerate, and dissemble almost as much as the president they work for.” Sharry adds, “Instead of targeting serious criminals, they are targeting every immigrant they can get their hands on and calling all of them criminals.”
It’s worth noting that incipient panic about ICE raids of the kind expressed by Mr. Sharry has become quite widespread. Over the weekend, Mayor de Blasio’s press secretary incited a social media firestorm when he claimed ICE agents had gone to an elementary school to investigate a 4th grader:
Mayor's been briefed on a fed immig agent showing up at Queens' PS58 Thurs. asking about a 4th grader. School turned him away. A 4th grader.
— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) May 13, 2017
Only it wasn’t true as the NY Times pointed out yesterday:
The immigration agents who visited Public School 58 in Maspeth on May 11 were not enforcement officers, but fraud investigators for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Katherine Tichacek, a spokeswoman for the agency. The agents were trying to determine if a student was enrolled in order for a parent to qualify for an immigrant benefit, which could be permanent residency or a work authorization.
Since President Trump announced stricter enforcement of immigration laws, rumors of raids by ICE agents have spread without substantiation in many parts of the country. In New York, there has been talk of ICE agents headed to the Bronx and in Queens, and at a hospital in Brooklyn — all later proved false.
In this particular case, the agents identified themselves at the door and spoke to a school administrator. They were told that the student in question was not enrolled and left. They never spoke to or asked to speak to a child.
Despite the fact that he set off a panic based on false information, de Blasio’s press secretary told the Times, “ICE’s enforcement efforts, broadly, are alarming. Parents deserve to know when D.H.S. shows up at our elementary schools.”