Arrests of undocumented immigrants by federal agents increased in June, but deportations fell to their lowest point this year as the nation’s court system sees bigger backlogs, according to data released Monday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
ICE agents arrested 13,914 people last month, following a trend since President Trump took office in January and his campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration.
In the final three months of the Obama administration, ICE averaged 9,134 arrests per month. That number has steadily increased under Trump, with the agency averaging 13,085 each month from February through June.
The Trump administration has not turned those arrests into more deportations, however, as those numbers keep falling.
In the final three months of the Obama administration, the agency averaged 22,705 deportations per month. That number has consistently fallen under Trump, with the agency averaging 16,895 from February through June, reaching its lowest point in June.
ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan recently said the drop in deportations is because of the backlog in federal immigration courts and the lengthy time to process each case. The number of cases waiting to be completed has surpassed 610,000 through June, according to the TRAC research project at Syracuse University.
Immigration courts have long been overburdened, with regular deportation cases taking up to two years to complete because of the volume of cases. The Trump administration has added to that backlog by arresting more people and cutting back on the Obama administration policy of allowing undocumented immigrants to be free on bond as they await their court hearings.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has dispatched 25 more immigration judges to detention centers along the southwest border with Mexico and wants to add more. The Justice Department’s goal is to hire 50 immigration judges this year and 75 in the following year.
By Alan Gomez for USA TODAY
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