The Slatest

Half of Immigrants Targeted for Deportation Didn’t Commit Violent Crimes

An undocumented immigrant is led toward an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), charter jet early on October 15, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona.  

John Moore/Getty Images

Records released about a series of raids targeting undocumented immigrants suggest that Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents are not, in fact, focusing on deporting violent criminals. Data obtained by the Washington Post shows that about half of the 675 immigrants detained in raids across the United States in early February had no criminal convictions or had committed traffic offenses.

These numbers represent only a small fraction of the 21,362 immigrants that have been taken into custody from January through mid-March but it suggests the net for deportation is being cast a lot wider than officials have suggested. In fact, of that total, 5,441 were not criminals at all. The data “confirms our worst fears, which is that this administration is really trying to deport as many as possible regardless of whether they have a criminal record,” said Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.

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Other activists have emphasized that the raids under Trump have spread fear in communities across the country. “We cannot understate the level of panic and terror that is running through many immigrant communities,” Walter Barrientos, a member of the nonprofit organization Make the Road New York, said in February. Part of this fear has to do with the way agents aren’t “just detaining individuals they are looking for … but in fact, taking anyone else in the community, or in these homes who does not have immigration status at the moment, or who is not able to prove citizenship.”

Little wonder then that Fusion noted one of Trump’s only accomplishments of his first 100 days has been “terrorizing immigrants.” President Barack Obama was also fond of deporting people, but Trump has expanded those undocumented immigrants can be considered “high priorities” to be kicked out of the country. Despite this dynamic though, the terror that Trump’s administration has sown in immigrant communities has largely been left out of the discussions of the president’s first 100 days in office.

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