Austin has most ICE arrests of immigrants not convicted of crimes

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Students and community members rallied on the East Mall Tuesday evening to protest against the Trump administration and the recent executive order. 

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Austin has the highest percentage of undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions in the U.S., according to reports by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE Wednesday.

“Most of the people arrested by (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in the recent raids were non-criminal immigrants,” Mayor Steve Adler wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday. “By not focusing on apprehending criminals, ICE is causing fear to spread in our community, and when otherwise law-abiding people are afraid to interact with law enforcement, we are less safe as a city.”

Of ICE’s confirmed 51 detainments over the course of four days this month, 28 detainees were not previously convicted of crimes, accounting for 55 percent of the arrests. 

ICE detained 23 people with criminal convictions, with two convicted of sexually abusing children, two of assualt and nine of drunk driving. The data also includes detainees that have been convicted of drug trafficking, marijuana possesion or obstructing the police, according to the Statesman. 

ICE has conducted sweeps over the past few weeks across the country for Operation Cross Check, which the agency says targets mainly undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions, according to fact sheets ICE released concerning U.S. cities with detainments.

Since Feb. 6, ICE has arrested more than 680 people collectively from San Antonio, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta, according to a fact sheet released on Feb. 13. ICE arrested 38 people with criminal convictions out of 41 during five days, accounting for 5 percent, according to New York City’s fact sheet.

ICE said the arrests sometimes occur when a suspected undocumented immigrant is with someone wanted for a crime, according to the Statesman.

“During targeted enforcement operations, ICE officers frequently encounter additional suspects who may be in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws,” ICE said in the fact sheets. “Those persons will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and when appropriate, arrested by ICE.”

ICE officials have not released the names of those arrested in Austin, but said many of them are from the area, according to the Statesman.

On Tuesday the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released memos defining President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration. John Kelly, secretary of DHS, gave ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection more authority in immigration enforcement, including the power to deport incarcerated undocumented immigrants or those apprehended at the border.

Some Austin City Council members condemned the new rules, which only apply to DHS and no other department or agency.

“The undocumented members in our community are an overwhelmingly positive part of our community,” Council member Delia Garza of District 2 said in a press conference Tuesday. “The main effect of increasing deportations and expanding the immigration enforcement bureaucracy will be to tear apart families, and will overlook truly pressing needs in this country, like education, jobs and infrastructure.”

Council Member Sabino Renteria of District 3 said Trump’s recent actions do not serve their intended purposes.

“I’m constantly surprised at the dangerous disregard that the Trump administration continues to display for the American values that actually make this country great,” Renteria said in the press conference. “The new enforcement policies are an enormous waste of government resources and will inevitably make our communities less safe.”

Correction: The original article said "Austin has the most detainments undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions in the U.S." It is actually the highest percentage. The Texan regrets this error.