Report: ICE Revving Up Arrests Leads to Immigrant Fear and Declining Police Cooperation

Image courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The Migration Policy Institute released a report this morning analyzing the impact of the Trump administration’s new interior enforcement policies. Entitled “Revving Up the Machinery of Deportation,” the report looks at the high intensity deportation practices of ICE during the first year of the Trump presidency. The complete short-form report can be read here.

Nationally, ICE arrests are up by more than 40%. The number of those arrested who have no criminal record has doubled. However, as during previous administrations, ICE arrests are closely tied to arrests for criminal accusations. An arrest for a crime by local police is still the leading trigger for an ICE arrest.

Counterintuitively, as ICE seems to have had most restraints on its activities lifted, it has seen declining arrests in many parts of the country. Because of widespread opposition to Trump’s immigration policies, many states and localities have adopted policies that reduce police cooperation with ICE. For example, California, which has passed three state “sanctuary” laws limiting cooperation with ICE, is “proving a particularly significant brake on enforcement,” according to MPI. “The state’s share of overall ICE arrests fell from 23 percent in FY 2013, the year before its first “sanctuary” law passed, to 14 percent in FY 2017.”

Trump’s rhetoric and policies have resulted in increasing arrests of non-criminals and bystanders, as well as arrests in courthouses and neighborhoods. These unrestrained arrests have sown fear in immigrant communities, according to the report. It documents a decline in reporting of crimes, including domestic violence, by Hispanic communities, as well as a reduction in economic activity and use of health services and public benefits by immigrant families. What have been particularly frightening are ICE arrests of bystanders when ICE is making targeted arrests. In these operations, ICE arrives at a house to arrest someone for whom they have an administrative warrant and questions other people they encounter and arrest those they believe are undocumented.

ICE continues to avoid arrests at the so-called “sensitive locations” of schools, houses of worship, and health care facilities, but they are making arrests just about anywhere else. Particularly troubling have been ICE arrests at courthouses. Judges and legal service providers worry that immigrants will stop using the courts if they worry that they will be arrested and deported if they attend a family court hearing.

“Know Your Rights” presentations are also slowing down ICE enforcement. Because of these presentations, many immigrants now know that ICE cannot enter a home without either permission to do so by the occupant, or a judicial warrant. Since ICE rarely has a judicial warrant, ICE is often turned away empty handed.

I note that I was among the more than 100 people interviewed for the report.