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Arrests of undocumented migrants with no criminal record double in US

Overall number of detentions grows by 32.6% in first two months of Trump administration

Donald Trump’s first two months in office saw him keep his campaign promise to deport undocumented immigrants. Between the end of January and mid-March, arrests of immigrants in the United States rose by 32.6% on the same period for 2016. Among foreigners with no criminal record, arrests doubled, according to official figures seen by The Washington Post.

Protesters against Trump's immigration policies in San Francisco on Friday.
Protesters against Trump's immigration policies in San Francisco on Friday. AP

Trump has criticized the immigration policies of his predecessor Barack Obama as too lax, and is set to break with the strategy of only deporting foreigners who have committed serious crimes. After winning the elections in November, Trump announced he would prioritize the expulsion of undocumented citizens with criminal records, mentioning a figure of between two and three million individuals, and that he would then decide what to do about the remaining 11 million with no residence or work permits believed to be in the United States.

In February, Trump signed an order opening the door to large-scale deportations by imposing “extreme limits” on exceptions to expatriation, giving immigration officers greater powers to arrest anybody on “reasonable suspicion.” Since then, responding to fears in the Hispanic community, a number of cities have said their local police will not work with the federal government on deportations.

Despite criticizing Obama’s approach to illegal immigration, Trump has a long way to go to match his predecessor, who deported some 2.9 million undocumented migrants during his mandate, more than any other president, and earning him the sobriquet of “deporter-in-chief.

Donald Trump has a long way to go to beat the 2.9 million immigrants Barack Obama deported

Between January 20, when Trump took office, and March 31, 21,362 immigrants were arrested, 5,441 of whom had no criminal record, compared to the 16,104 arrests for the same period in 2016, according to official figures. The figure is higher than the 18,031 arrests during the same period in 2015, but lower than 2014’s 29,238.

The number of arrests has not so far altered the number of deportations. Expulsions between January and March fell 1.2% on the previous year. According to the The Washington Post, there has been an increase in deportations of people without a criminal record.

The number of arrests grew at the offices of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), which is responsible for detaining undocumented migrants, at its offices in New York, Boston, and Atlanta. Human rights groups say that the mood of fear has seen a sharp fall in the number of calls to police stations by immigrants.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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