New TRAC Report Shows Where ICE Arrests Occur

Only one-quarter were "community arrests"

By Andrew R. Arthur on September 26, 2018

A new report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) details more than two million arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) between October 2008 and June 2018. That report provides valuable insights into how ICE identifies the aliens it places into removal proceedings.

There is one significant caveat to that report: It does not include aliens who were turned over to ICE by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), such as border arrests and expedited removal cases, but for that reason it provides a more realistic view into ICE's interior immigration-enforcement mission.

As TRAC notes: "Historically, the vast majority of ICE arrests occur when the agency assumes custody of immigrants from another law enforcement agency." This has continued into the Trump administration, under which, the report notes, approximately three out of four arrests have been such so-called "custodial" arrests.

According to the report, 22 percent of aliens arrested by ICE in the first nine months of FY 2018 were apprehended in state and federal prisons, while an additional 41 percent were apprehended at local jails.

The ICE 287(g) program resulted in an additional 6 percent of the agency's arrests. As ICE describes it:

The 287(g) program, one of ICE's top partnership initiatives, allows a state or local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), in order to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.

At the present time, ICE has agreements under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) with 78 law enforcement agencies in 20 states, and the agency has trained some 1,514 state and local officers in the enforcement of the immigration laws. The number of arrests under this program has increased from a low of 218 in December 2015, to a high of 945 under the Trump administration in January 2018. While a significant increase, this number is well off of its high during the almost 10-year period examined of 3,588 in January 2010.

Of ICE arrests in the first three-quarters of FY 2018, 25 percent were "community arrests", according to TRAC, that is "individuals arrested at their home, place of work, or elsewhere in the wider community including at courthouses or at DHS offices when the immigrant had appeared for an appointment." Under the Trump administration, community arrests reached a high of 4,275 in March 2017, well above the low under the Obama administration of 1,656 in December 2014 (when community arrests represented approximately 18 percent of the total), but off of a high for the period examined of 6,001 in July 2009.

The number of monthly ICE arrests has increased under the Trump administration from the end of the Obama administration, going from a low of 8,005 ICE arrests in January 2016 to a high of 14,369 arrests in August 2017. In the latest month for which ICE arrests were reported (June 2018), 13,221 occurred. While significant, this is well below the high of ICE arrests (28,767) in March 2011. As TRAC found:

ICE interior arrests overall are up as compared to the last two years of the Obama Administration after implementation of the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) that focused arrests on the most serious criminals and recent illegal border crossers. However, current ICE arrests remain only half the levels of five years ago when Secure Communities held sway under President Obama.

ICE ended PEP shortly after the beginning of the Trump administration, and Secure Communities was restored. As the agency states:

Secure Communities ... uses a federal information-sharing partnership between DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that helps to identify in-custody aliens without imposing new or additional requirements on state and local law enforcement. For decades, local jurisdictions have shared the fingerprints of individuals arrested and/or booked into custody with the FBI to see if those individuals have a criminal record and outstanding warrants. Under Secure Communities, the FBI automatically sends the fingerprints to DHS to check against its immigration databases. If these checks reveal that an individual is unlawfully present in the United States or otherwise removable, ICE takes enforcement action — prioritizing the removal of individuals who present the most significant threats to public safety as determined by the severity of their crime, their criminal history, and risk to public safety — as well as those who have violated the nation's immigration laws.

ICE completed full implementation of Secure Communities to all 3,181 jurisdictions within 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. Territories on January 22, 2013. While the biometric interoperability has remained constant since full implementation was achieved, ICE's operational posture under Secure Communities was temporarily suspended by DHS policy [under the Obama administration] from November 20, 2014, through January 25, 2017.

Since its reactivation on January 25, 2017 [by the Trump administration] through the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 ... more than 43,300 convicted criminal aliens have been removed as a result of Secure Communities.

The number of arrests from federal incarceration remained fairly steady during the report period. The number of arrests from state incarceration, on the other hand, fell, going from a high of 3,320 in May 2009 to a low of 741 in December 2016. In June 2018, ICE made 910 arrests from state incarceration.

Similarly, the number of ICE arrests from local incarceration also fell off within the report period, going from a high of 15,283 in July 2009 to a low of 2,714 in January 2016. That number has since increased during the Trump administration (reaching a high of 6,585 in August 2017), likely as a result of the president replacing the Obama administration's "Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants", which had been implemented by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson in November 2014, with broader priorities in Executive Order 13768 (captioned "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States") on January 25, 2017.