By Cait Flynn
At least 683 people living in the country illegally have been detained or deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement following a wave of raids and arrests enabled by President Donald Trump’s executive order last month, according to The Washington Post.
The executive order, signed on Jan. 25, expanded the criteria for enforcement of immigration laws as well as the initiation of construction on a border wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, The Washington Post reported.
According to the same source, the order changes the focus of ICE by prioritizing deportation efforts concerning those who have committed violent crimes instead of those who have committed a crime in general. The order also instructed Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to pursue means of stripping “sanctuary cities” of their federal funding.
Department of Homeland Security officials have denied any illegal actions or detainments since the executive order was signed. Kelly testified before Congress earlier last week, describing ICE as having its “hands tied behind (its) back” during the Obama administration, and hoping the new efforts to deport more than 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally will alleviate ICE’s frustrations, Fortune magazine reported.
However, the same source reported that the Trump administration officials describe ICE’s current actions as no different than that of what took place during the Obama administration. As many as 409,000 people were deported in 2012, leading critics to call former President Barrack Obama “Deporter-in-Chief.”
Anecdotal accounts of ICE agents waiting outside of schools, community centers, homeless shelters and parking lots have been unilaterally denied by the agency, according to The Washington Post.
A tweet from ICE on Friday, Feb. 17, reads, “Reports of ICE checkpoints, indiscriminate ‘raids’ & sweeps… are false, dangerous, and irresponsible.”
Top ICE officials met with Congress this week to discuss the enforcement efforts, concluding that as many as 186 of those arrested have no criminal record. In separate statements, the agency has only confirmed 20 cases in which the person arrested has committed a past violent or sexual crime, The Washington Post reported.
Friday morning, the Associated Press reported the interception of a memo by the Department of Homeland Security in which a plan was formulated to deploy as many as 100,000 National Guard members to 11 states to aid local officials and ICE agents in enforcement efforts.
The executive order on immigration did not include plans regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that was signed by Obama, which allows immigrants living in the country illegally to apply for legal work visas that are valid for two years.
DACA was repeatedly threatened on the campaign trail by Trump, who called it a “horrible order” and promised it would be ended immediately, according to The Hill.
Carlos Garcia, director of the human rights group Puente Arizona, told The Washington Post that legally questionable arrests will likely lead to the retreat and hiding of the immigrant community.
“If what’s going to happen when people come to check-in (is that) they are going to get detained and deported, I would assume most people will not turn themselves in,” Garcia said.