70% of Daily ICE Detainees Have No Criminal Record
About 50,000 people are jailed on any given day under the authority of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the most foreigners held in immigration detention in U.S. history. The majority of those detainees are people with no prior criminal records, the Washington Post reports. The latest snapshot of ICE’s prisoner population shows that nearly 70 percent of inmates had no prior criminal conviction. More than 14,000 are people the U.S. government has determined have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture if deported. Though President Donald Trump has made cracking down on immigration a centerpiece of his first term, his administration lags far behind President Barack Obama’s pace of deportations.
Obama — who immigrant advocates at one point called the “deporter in chief” — removed 409,849 people in 2012 alone. Trump, who has vowed to deport “millions” of immigrants, has yet to surpass 260,000 deportations in a single year. While Obama deported 1.18 million people during his first three years in office, Trump has deported fewer than 800,000. It is unclear why deportations have been happening slowly. The agency acknowledged that overall deportation numbers had slipped, attributing the decline to fewer border apprehensions and suggesting that an “increased deterrent effect from ICE’s stronger interior enforcement efforts” had caused the change. ICE says that the detainee population has swelled — often 5,000 people more than ICE is budgeted to hold — as a direct result of the influxes of migrants along the southern border. Immigrant advocates say packed jail cells result from an administration obsessed with employing harsh immigration tactics as a means of deterrence. They say the administration keeps people locked up when they previously would have been released pending the outcomes of their cases.
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