Arrests of Noncriminals Double, Putting Public Safety at Risk

Communications Associate

April 17, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The dramatic increase in arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record suggests a dangerous lack of prioritization in immigration enforcement.

The Washington Post reports that from January through mid-March, such arrests more than doubled, compared with the same period last year.

Although arrests of noncriminal unauthorized immigrants were high at various points during the Obama administration, that administration took steps to focus limited resources on actual threats to public safety, including the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) and new enforcement priorities.

The Trump administration revoked PEP and is making nearly all undocumented immigrants enforcement priorities.

Local law enforcement leaders, including police chiefs Charlie Beck in Los Angeles and Art Acevedo in Houston, have reported a drop in reporting among immigrants of rape and other violent crimes and have cited fear in immigrant communities.

“It was wrong when the Obama administration deported immigrants with no criminal records, and it is wrong that the Trump administration is returning to this practice,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Limited resources should go toward arresting and deporting violent criminals.

“When immigrants do not feel safe reporting crimes or serving as witnesses, we are all less safe. When anyone, even a survivor of domestic abuse, is a priority for deportation, the effect is chilling.

“For the safety of all Americans, federal immigration enforcement must home in on actual threats, not those caught in a system Congress has failed to fix.”