US immigration officers have arrested 650 people in communities across the US in the latest deportation sweep, but the vast majority of those picked up by law enforcement don’t have a criminal record — an apparent break from the organization’s stated priority to focus on “criminal aliens”.
In a crackdown that came close in size to a large-scale sweep earlier this year, Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 650 people over a four-day span last month, including 38 minors. Of that group, though, 520 had no criminal record, compared to just 170 people who had no criminal records and were arrested in the earlier crackdowns.
ICE says that the targets of the latest sweeps were subject to removal orders by federal judges, however it’s not clear how the individuals without criminal records ended up on the targets list, or how many were incidental arrests.
Danielle Bennett, an ICE spokeswoman, told The Independent that non-criminal individuals may have been on the targets list as a part of “determent” efforts, but did not clarify the process by which it is decided to put non-criminal undocumented immigrants on that list under current priorities (it is not legal to cross the border without authorization).
Ms Bennett said that deterring those individuals from coming to the United States illegally is important, as the trip is often dangerous. In addition, spreading the message that current US policy is to deport undocumented immigrants from Central America is important to ICE because people coming to the country without permission often spend their life savings to do so, and risk losing all of that if deported.
Avid Moussavian, the senior policy attorney for the National Immigration Law Centre, told The Independent that the recent raids show that the administration is targeting any and every undocumented immigrant in the country — not just criminal aliens. Policy justifications like determent, she said, only show that the United States government is uninterested in addressing underlying causes that have sparked migration from Central America.
“They are looking for justification for what is essentially a mass detention and deportation plan,” Ms Moussavian said. “This is an agency that has demonstrated a willingness to be vindictive and retaliatory.”
A statement from ICE announcing the recent deportation raids noted that the operation is the second development as a part of the organisation’s Operation Border Guardian/Border…