WASHINGTON — After 10 months of ramped-up immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump and a sharp surge of arrests across the country, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement promised Tuesday that the agency will become even more aggressive next year.
Thomas Homan, acting director of ICE, said he wants to dramatically increase targeting of companies that hire immigrants who entered the country illegally, as well as launch community raids that snare such people in so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with his agency.
Immigration arrests in the country’s interior have surged 40 percent this year — the result, Homan said, of Trump’s hard-nosed approach. Under President Barack Obama, interior arrests steadily dropped as the administration implemented policies under which people who did not commit other crimes were not targeted for deportation.
In the last fiscal year, ICE arrested 105,736 people in the U.S. illegally who also had criminal convictions, a 12 percent increase from the previous year. But arrests of people with no criminal convictions more than doubled in the past year, to more than 37,000.
In the agency’s St. Paul Area of Responsibility, arrests reached 4,175 in 2017, up from 2,500 the year before. Arrests of people with no criminal convictions more than tripled to 1,144, up from 317 in 2016. The St. Paul area includes Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas and Nebraska.
About 8 percent of the national total are so-called collateral arrests, of immigrants caught when ICE agents came looking for someone else.
Homan was unapologetic and said most of those cases came in so-called sanctuary cities, when agents went looking for people who had been released from jails in spite of ICE requests.
“There’s definitely retaliation” for the sanctuary policies, said Erika Almiron, executive director of Juntos, an immigration rights group in Philadelphia. That city’s policy of not cooperating with ICE has repeatedly drawn attacks from the Trump administration.
By Joseph Tanfani for TWINCITIES.COM
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