DENVER – Immigration arrests are up nearly 40 percent so far under the Trump administration compared to last year, and more than one-quarter of those arrested had no criminal history.
In Colorado and Wyoming, arrests rose by about one-quarter this year over last year, but removals were up by nearly 150 percent.
The new data released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Wednesday shows the marked increase in the federal crackdown by Homeland Security and ICE on people living in the U.S. illegally—no matter their criminal record.
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested 41,318 people between Jan. 22 and April 29 of this year. The agents arrested 30,028 over a similar period between Jan. 24 and April 30 last year—amounting to a 37.6 percent increase year-over-year.
Most notable among the data was a marked increase in non-criminal arrests.
Approximately 10,800 non-criminals were arrested in the period this year—about 26 percent of the total arrests. But in the 2016 period, only 4,200 non-criminals were arrested—only 14 percent of the total.
While 74 percent of the arrests so far this year were of convicted criminals, only about 6.5 percent (2,700 arrests) involved people convicted of violent crimes, such as homicide, rape, kidnapping and assault.
The release announcing the “100 days” figures noted the April 13 arrest of Jose Victor Bonilla-Melendez, one of ICE’s most-wanted fugitives, whom agents picked up after he was featured in a report.
“These statistics reflect President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board,” ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said.
The ICE arrests of undocumented immigrants in the Denver area has drawn the attention of city and state leaders alike. Denver prosecutors and immigrants’ rights groups have lamented the presence of ICE agents at Denver courthouses, saying they are hindering criminal investigations and intimidating witnesses.
In Colorado and Wyoming, there were 812 people arrested over nearly the same time period this year – from Jan. 20 to April 29.
Of those arrests, 678 of the people had been convicted of crimes, and 134 were non-criminals. ICE arrests in Colorado and Wyoming were up 21 percent from 2016 to 2017 over the time period. Non-criminal arrests rose from 28 last year to 134 this year.
But the largest increase in Colorado and Wyoming ICE actions came in removals, which increased from 323 last year to 793 over the time period this year—an increase of 145 percent.
This year, 494 of those removed had criminal convictions, and 299 were non-criminals.
Not all of those arrested this year have been removed at this time.
Jeanette Vizguerra and Arturo Hernandez-Garcia, two undocumented immigrants from the Denver area who have both at times in the past two years sought sanctuary from deportation at churches, were each granted two-year stays of removal earlier this month.
But private bills filed by Colorado members of Congress on their behalves were instrumental in securing their stays, and those will become more difficult to obtain.
On May 5, ICE changed the rules so that a single private bill would have to be approved by the chair of the House or Senate judiciary committees in order to be considered by ICE.
Many Colorado cities are reviewing their policies toward people living in the country illegally. Aurora made it a point Tuesday to say, once again, that it is not a “sanctuary city,” and Fort Collins council members are reviewing a proposed ordinance aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants.