In Trump’s first year, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 109,000 criminals and 46,000 people without criminal records — a 171% increase in the number of non-criminal individuals arrested over 2016.
…The Trump administration has subtly blurred the distinction between criminals and those with final orders of removal, which is a civil, not criminal charge.
…Critics say including people with decades-old final orders of removal as priorities is more about boosting numbers by targeting easily catchable individuals than about public safety threats.
…Sandweg said that people with final orders, especially those who are checking in regularly with ICE, are easy to locate and can be immediately deported without much legal recourse. Identifying and locating criminals and gang members takes more investigative work.
…”We shouldn’t spend one penny on low-hanging fruit,” said Sarah Saldana, the most recent director of ICE before Trump’s inauguration. “What we should be spending money is on getting people who are truly a threat to public safety.”
…If 20 officers are assigned to identify targets with final orders, “those are 20 officers who won’t be out focused on finding gang members or criminals,” said Bo Cooper, a career official who served as general counsel of ICE’s predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
“When there are a finite amount of resources, choices you make come at the expense of other choices,” Cooper said. “It really is a significant policy choice.”