New data shows that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests per year have nearly doubled since 2015.
ICE agents in the Mid-South made 10,270 arrests in 2018. ICE tracks arrests by their field offices – there are 26 of them.
Tennessee, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi all fall under the New Orleans field office.
In 2015, agents made 5,200 arrests – the same in 2016.
In 2017, there were nearly 8,000 arrests. Then last year in 2018, ICE agents made more than 10,000 arrests in our area.
But that increase is not the concerning trend. It’s the percent of those arrests that are criminal.
“I was surprised but I was not surprised because this is exactly what the president is directing people to do, and it’s unfortunate,” said Mauricio Calvo, executive director of Latino Memphis.
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In 2015, 84 percent of the people arrested by ICE in our area had been previously convicted of a crime. In 2018, of the 10,270 undocumented immigrants arrested in our district, only 6,100 were criminal.
That is less than 60 percent.
“We need to have priorities. Immigrants aren’t necessarily criminals and there’s that perception that criminals are immigrants and immigrants are criminals, and study after study shows that actually foreign-born people tend to commit less crimes,” said Calvo.
ICE officials said they continue to focus their limited resources first and foremost on those who pose the greatest threat to public safety. They issued a statement to FOX13 regarding the data:
“Any suggestions as to ICE engaging in random or indiscriminate enforcement are categorically false,” the statement read.
But some said the data points in another direction.
“It is time for immigration reform and whatever we are doing right now is not working. It’s not working for immigrants, it’s not working for local law enforcement, it’s not working for federal government, it’s not working for anybody,” Calvo said.
We reached out to ICE to find out what offenses are categorized as criminal, but we have yet to hear back.
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