Immigration Arrests Rise Sharply In Georgia, Carolinas | WABE 90.1 FM

Immigration Arrests Rise Sharply In Georgia, Carolinas

May 19, 2017

Since President Trump's inauguration, federal immigration officials have arrested nearly 2,000 more people in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina than they did during the same period last year.

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According to numbers released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officials arrested 4,246 people from Jan. 20 through April 29 this year. That's compared to to 2,429 arrests during the same time period in 2016 – a nearly 75 percent increase. 

The increase in the three-state area's immigration arrest rate is about double than the national average. Nationally, arrests were up about 35 percent from 31,128 to 41,898. 

"These stats reflect President Trump's commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board," acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said in a press call earlier this week. 

The percentage of those arrested without criminal convictions has also risen, according to ICE. In the three-state area, the percentage of those arrested who had a criminal conviction was 66.1 percent in 2017. That's compared to 89.4 percent in the same period in 2016. 

Trump signed an executive order that broadens the priorities for immigration enforcement. 

"ICE will no longer exempt any class of individuals from removal proceedings if they are found to be in the country illegally," Homan said. 

That differs from the Obama administration, which prioritized deporting people with felony convictions and other offenses, said Sarah Owings, an immigration attorney with the American Immigration Lawyers Association Georgia-Alabama Chapter.  "With the way the administration is working right now, everyone is considered a priority so it does cause a lot of worry," she said.