Under the Obama administration, 85 percent of those arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement had criminal convictions. That figure is down to 67 percent in the Trump era.
The Trump administration said immigration judges may no longer administratively close cases, a way of letting someone avoid deportation, the Wall Street Journal reports. New data show that Trump agencies are arresting far more illegal immigrants without criminal convictions than did the Obama administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed the judges to stop closing cases administratively, which takes deportation cases off the courts’ crowded docket and allows illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. even though they haven’t proved a legal right to do so. They have typically been used in cases where the immigrant has strong ties to the U.S. and no criminal record.
Administrative closures were common under the Obama administration but have been much less so under the Trump administration, as prosecutors are no longer supporting the move. Meanwhile, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said that one in three people arrested by ICE agents in the first half of fiscal 2018 had no criminal convictions, a result of the Trump administration’s wide net as it pursues illegal immigrants living in the U.S. During the two final years of the Obama administration, more than 85 percent of people arrested by ICE had criminal convictions. ICE priorities for arrest now include anyone charged or suspected of a crime, as well as those convicted. The agency also targets people who have deportation orders on their records. The new ICE data cover the first half of fiscal year 2018, which began on Oct. 1. In that period, nearly 80,000 people were arrested by ICE, about the same number in the second half of 2017. Of those, nearly 67 percent had criminal convictions and about 33 percent didn’t. Of those arrested by ICE without convictions on their records, more than half had been charged with a crime.