WASHINGTON — The number of immigrants deported from the interior of the U.S. who had no criminal convictions nearly tripled during President Donald Trump’s first fiscal year as president, as he carried out his promise to ramp up enforcement on the undocumented population.
The Trump administration insisted on Tuesday that agents are still focused on criminals, even though the president eliminated policies from the previous administration that instructed agents to prioritize some immigrants over others. A majority of immigrants arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the 2017 fiscal year had been convicted of crimes.
But ICE’s end-of-year statistics, released Tuesday, show that people with clean criminal records are far from safe ― including so-called “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. as children, should they lose deportation protections from the now-rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Thomas Homan, the acting director of ICE, said all immigrants living in the U.S. without authorization “should be concerned.”
“The president has made it clear in his executive orders: There’s no population off the table. If you’re in this country illegally, we’re looking for you and we’re going to look to apprehend you,” said Homan, Trump’s pick to run the agency, at a press conference on Tuesday.
Deportations overall were down during the 2017 fiscal year, most of which was under Trump’s presidency, from the previous year, in part because fewer people were caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. But the number of undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions deported from the interior of the country rose dramatically.
People with no criminal convictions accounted for 17 percent of those deported after getting arrested by ICE within the country ― a sharp increase since former President Barack Obama’s last full year in office, when those without criminal convictions made up 8 percent of interior deportations. In total, nearly 14,000 noncriminals were deported from the interior of the country in the 2017 fiscal year, compared with about 5,000 the year before.
Breaking with practices in recent years, ICE did not classify the people deported by the severity of their criminal histories, noting only whether the deportee had a criminal conviction. That change is consistent with the Trump administration’s decision to scrap Obama-era priorities instructing agents to focus on deporting people with…