Under new immigration policies, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have begun to apprehend undocumented individuals with no criminal records who reside in the country.
In 2018, ICE’s arrest of immigrants without criminal records increased 66 percent. For the same period, the number of arrests of immigrants with criminal records increased a mere 2 percent. Even more startling is the increase in the number of noncriminal deportations, which have increased 174 percent since 2017. Over 220,000 individuals were deported in 2017. Nearly 80,000 of those individuals did not possess a criminal record.
Immigration data reveals many of the immigrants scheduled for deportation who possess criminal records have committed lesser offenses, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and other traffic offenses. The most common criminal conviction was for illegal entry or re-entry into the country, with 25 percent of “criminal” deportees being found guilty of one of these two offenses.
Even Minor Infractions Can Have Major Consequences
Undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. can face deportation when picked up for suspicion of even the most minor crimes including joy riding, violating fishing regulations, and failing to have a ticket on a public train. Other individuals have found that calling the local police after a minor traffic accident can lead to deportation proceedings if the police notify ICE of the involvement of an undocumented immigrant. Local law enforcement officers, including transit officers, have increasingly handed individuals over to ICE who can move forward with detention and deportation proceedings under the current administration’s new immigration guidelines.
Many local law enforcement agencies now have agreements in place with ICE to alert immigration authorities if they come into contact with any individual living in the United States who lacks proper documentation, regardless of whether they pose a serious threat or have a criminal background. Targeted round ups have taken place when immigrants are scheduled to appear at courthouse hearings and pre-arraignment appearances.
ICE’s targeted roundups of non-criminals is a marked contrast to the Obama Administration’s immigration policy, which focused its efforts on immigrants with criminal records. To gather support for its stricter immigration enforcement policies, the Trump Administration continues to highlight crimes of immigrants, including the recent kidnapping and tragic death of college student Mollie Tibbetts.
Many immigration experts stress the commission of violent crimes, including rape and murder is relatively rare among deportees. Other studies show the rate of criminality among immigrants is actually lower than the level of criminality among U.S. citizens.
For many immigrants living in the U.S. without proper documents, it has become more important than ever to obtain legal residency status to avoid being held in a detention center or deported. The first step to obtaining legal U.S. residency status is to contact an experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyer who can guide you through the proper legal channels.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Provide Immigration Assistance to Families
If you or a loved one has an immigration question, the experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. are here to help. To further discuss all your immigration issues, including deportations, Board of Immigration appeals, visa applications, abuse petitions and asylum issues, call us today at 215-925-4435 or submit an online inquiry form. From our offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, we serve individuals and families across Pennsylvania.