A Washington Post report outlined the striking differences between the Trump administration's policy regarding the handling of immigrants and that of the Obama administration.
While Trump officials have increased not only the number of immigrants in ICE custody, the time individuals spend there lag far behind the Obama administration in the number of deportations, according to the report. An ICE operational report from 2017 showed, in the first eight months of their terms, Trump was responsible for 37 percent more arrests by ICE away from border zones, the report said.
According to administration officials, a large portion of the increase in the number of detained immigrants should be linked directly to a crisis at the southern border.
"About 75 percent of ICE’s detention book-ins in the fiscal year 2019 came directly from the border,” said ICE spokesman Bryan Cox to the Washington Post.
ICE numbers also show they are holding people longer than they were before, with non-criminals currently spending an average of 60 days in immigrant jails — which is close to the same amount of time as that spent by convicted criminals, as well as nearly twice the length of the average stay 10 years ago.
“ICE has sort of declared open season on immigrants,” said Michael Tan, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, to the Washington Post. “So you’re seeing people who under the previous administration would have been eligible for bond and release being kept in custody.”
Those with knowledge claim the open season on immigrants is also responsible for overall deportations being down from 1.18 million people during Obama's first three years in office, to Trump who has deported fewer than 800,000 in a similar time frame. A large number of deportations led to many immigrant activists referring to him as “Deporter in Chief," being much higher than either his predecessor or his successor.
“The Obama administration, because they had enforcement priorities, were able to streamline deportations,” said Sophia Genovese, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, to Washington Post. “The Trump administration is making it harder for people to obtain visas or legal status, and at the same time, their deportation priority is everyone. So because of that, they clog the system.”
Despite decreased deportation numbers, Trump through his policies has shown he is no friend to the immigrant community.