Immigration Enforcement Under Trump: What’s Changed, and What Hasn’t

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We’re now nearly a year into Trump’s presidency. So is the crackdown on undocumented immigrants that he promised actually happening?

The answer is complicated.

For Dagoberto Bailon, an undocumented organizer for Trans Queer Pueblo, the biggest change from prior administrations is that people feel empowered to be blatantly racist now.

“I don’t think a lot has changed from the Obama administration,” he explained. “I think what happened was that a door was opened. Before, everything happened behind closed doors, and now there’s no need for that.”

He recalls his mom, who is also undocumented, telling him: “Nothing has changed, and it’s not like we weren’t living this before. It’s just the face of the person that has changed.”

In September, the Washington Post reported that ICE agents had arrested 43 percent more people since Trump took office than they did over the same time period during the year before. They’d also arrested nearly three times as many so-called “noncriminal immigration violators,” people who faced no criminal charges.

But that still doesn’t put the agency on track to match the annual arrest totals from 2012 through 2014, when then-president Barack Obama earned the nickname “deporter-in-chief.”

Locally, too, ICE isn’t arresting nearly as many people as it was during the height of Arizona’s anti-immigrant fervor. According to records released by the agency, ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations carried out a total of 2,504 administrative arrests in Arizona between January 20 — the date of Trump’s inauguration — and June 7. That averages out to fewer arrests per month than in 2009, when ICE arrested 13,463 people in total.

Since Trump took office, Phoenix has been spared from the massive workplace raids that have taken place in other parts of the country. Nor have there been reports of ICE officers showing up in Latino neighborhoods and grabbing everyone in sight, as well-meaning white liberals had initially feared.

By Antonia Noori Farzan and Joseph Flaherty for PHOENIX NEW TIMES
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