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Increased ICE Arrests Effects on Valley Immigrant Communities

5 years 4 months 2 days ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 December 14, 2018 7:56 PM December 14, 2018 in News - Local

WESLACO - The fiscal year of 2018 was a record year for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

They report an increase arrests and removals from the country. Immigrant communities confirm they've seen the increase.

In 2018, ICE reports 158,581 arrests. It reflects an increase of 10.5-percent from last year.

Marta Sanchez with La Union del Pueblo Entero warns against interpreting these numbers simply as statistics. 

She says, "I see the majority of people who are in this study, they're just numbers but they're actually human beings."

ICE is tasked with removing all who are in the country illegally. Many will have criminal charges pending or convictions for the charges.

About 13-percent of the charges were for crimes against people like assault or sex offenses.

The most common charge was for driving under the influence. It accounted for 15-percent of all charges.

There was a time when ICE did not prioritize removing those without criminal histories.

That changed with a presidential order under the current administration. Since then, there's an increase in the arrests of people with clean records but with immigration violations.

That nearly doubled in two years -- up to 20,464 cases in 2018.

Those cases will have violations for failure to appear before an immigration judge or have pending orders of removal.

For them, it started with entering the country illegally. Sanchez says their reasons can be compelling.

"A lot of times a lot of times the only thing they have is re-entry into the country.

The reality is when I ask them, "why did you come back?" They tell me, "my family is here. Who is going to take care of my country?"

The report also states that more of their arrests this year were carried out "at-large" -- meaning out in the community as opposed to custodial settings like a prison or jail.

The increased visibility has some families experiencing stress like a mother of two sons who walked in to LUPE Friday.

Her younger son was growing concerned in case of her deportation.

Sanchez said, "Who's going to take care of my brother who's blind, deaf, and he can't speak?

So, she was telling me that she had to look for help." The mother checked in her son to receive help from mental health professionals.

ICE reports the increase in their arrests runs parallel to an increase in the number of indictments and convictions they've secured as part of their mission to enforce immigration law.

Removals went up alongside arrests. They removed 13-percent more people than in the year prior. More of them were those with clean records but with immigration violations.

For the full report, you can visit:https://www.ice.gov/doclib/about/offices/ero/pdf/eroFY2018Report.pdf

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