The first months of President Donald Trump’s administration saw a spike in the number of immigrants arrested by US immigration authorities, Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on Thursday announced.
The number soared, rising by nearly 40 percent, new official figures say.
Overall, 41,300 people were arrested for deportation between January 22 and April 29, a 38 percent increase from a comparable period last year.
The increase is the result of a recent guidance given by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to implement Trump’s executive orders on interior immigration enforcement and border security signed on January 25, days after he assumed office.
However, in contradiction to Trump’s claims that only immigrants with criminal convictions would be prioritised for deportation, nearly 11,000 had no criminal convictions. This is more than double the number of immigrants without criminal convictions arrested during a comparable period last year.
Silvia Avelar-Flores, a 31 year-old Mexican woman was picked last month by immigration officials while shopping with her 8 year-old daughter. She had lived in the US since she was a little girl. She plans to take her youngest daughter, aged two, with her and leave her 10-year-old-son and eight-year-old daughter with her husband, who has permanent US residency.
The arrests of immigrants without criminal convictions has generated widespread outrage as it is believed that law-abiding families are being rounded up. Trump’s opponents say he is destroying families.
While arrests of immigrants rose, the number of deportations fell 12 percent during the period, Homan said.
The drop is due to a decline in arrests on the US-Mexico border where immigrants are usually sent home quickly and a lengthy backlog in US immigration courts that issue deportation orders, he said.