A massive sweep in Texas this month resulted in 145 arrests, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
It is the latest sign that President Donald Trump’s administration is ramping up interior immigration enforcement.
ICE agents targeted illegal immigrants who either had criminal convictions or had re-entered the United States after they were previously deported. The raids focused on south and central Texas.
Of the 145 people arrested, 86 individuals had criminal convictions, while 39 were arrested based on previous immigration encounters, according to ICE. Four of the individuals have pending criminal charges. Twenty of those arrested had no prior encounters with the agency, ICE authorities said.
Daniel Bible, Enforcement and Removal Office field director in San Antonio, said in a statement that the operation demonstrates ICE’s commitment to enforcing the law.
“ICE’s leadership has made clear that ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” he said. “All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and — if found removable by final order — removal from the United States. By effecting these immigration enforcement operations, the dedicated men and women of ICE help keep our communities safe.”
Trump was elected in 2016 after promising to reverse his predecessor’s permissive immigration policies. So some of his supporters were surprised and disappointed to learn that deportations in the fiscal year that ended in September — 226,199 — had declined from 240,225 the previous year.
But Bob Dane, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), wrote on the group’s website this month that the drop is misleading. He noted that 61,000 of the 81,000 deportations in fiscal year 2017 from the interior of the country — as opposed to illegal immigrants caught near the border and handed over to ICE — occurred after Trump took office. That is 37 percent above the total from the same period in fiscal year 2016.
“While the ‘Trump Effect’ of tough talk and stricter enforcement suppressed illegal border crossings (leading to commensurately lower removal numbers there), ICE ramped up interior enforcement efforts,” Dane wrote.
“Considering that Trump took office three months into the fiscal year, he’s on pace to out-deport the so-called deporter-in-chief [former President Barack Obama], (who vastly inflated removal statistics by counting people turned around at the border as deportations),” he said.
“Considering that Trump took office three months into the fiscal year, he’s on pace to out-deport the so-called deporter-in-chief [former President Barack Obama].”
Arrests of noncriminal illegal immigrants have increased by 200 percent to 300 percent in a dozen major cities, Dane noted. Immigration hawks consider that important because focusing only on criminals essentially exempts the vast majority of illegal immigrants from deportation.
This week’s enforcement operation in Texas resulted in the arrest of 128 Mexicans; seven illegal immigrants each from Honduras and Guatemala; and one each from El Salvador, Peru and Jordan.
The crimes committed by those arrested include indecency with a child, assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, drug offenses, burglary, and driving under the influence of alcohol.
The arrests included:
- A previously deported, 42-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico arrested in Harlingen, Texas. He was convicted in 2011 of indecency with a child, a felony, and was sentenced to 10 years’ probation. He currently faces federal criminal charges for illegally re-entering the U.S. after having been deported.
- A previously deported, 42-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico arrested in San Antonio. He was convicted in 2008 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to four months in federal prison. In October 2017, he was convicted of DUI and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
- A previously deported, 40-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico arrested in San Antonio. He was deported to Mexico in 2009 after he illegally entered the U.S. through Laredo, Texas. Some time after 2009, he illegally re-entered and was arrested at his home, where officers discovered six handguns.