Dara Lind · Thursday, May 18, 2017, 3:05 pm
The Trump White House is collapsing. The Trump immigration agenda is chugging along.
The Trump administration doesn’t have much to brag about. So it’s worth paying attention when they do.
On Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (the agency responsible for deporting unauthorized immigrants from the US) put out a flashy, photo-studded press release trumpeting the number of immigrants it had arrested in President Trump’s first 100 days: nearly 41,000.
“These statistics reflect President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board,” the press release quotes ICE’s acting director, Thomas Homan, as saying. “ICE continues to execute our mission professionally and in accordance with the law, and our communities will be much safer for it.”
The pace of immigrant arrests is up sharply from the past two years of the Obama administration. It’s comparable to the immigration regime that existed for the decade before that — when millions of unauthorized immigrants went about their daily lives in the US in constant fear of deportation at any time.
So far, the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement record resembles the first term of the Obama administration: the high-water mark for deportation and immigrant fear in modern US history.
Even as the administration is plagued by scandals and leaks, and the Republican legislative agenda is moving in fits and starts, the enthusiasm with which this administration has taken to immigration enforcement is shaping up to be its biggest success. It’s proceeding apace, untouched by the drama that has engulfed the Trump White House and threatens to sink his presidency. And even in the unlikely event that Trump is somehow forced from office, the lasting effects of the last few months are going to take a long time to undo.
ICE isn’t being indiscriminate in whom it arrests — but it’s certainly being less picky
The latest statistics released by ICE appear to confirm the picture of immigration enforcement under Trump that’s emerged from earlier data and from anecdotal reports around the country: ICE isn’t being wholly indiscriminate in going after unauthorized immigrants, but it’s being a lot less picky in going after the “low-hanging fruit.”