More foreigners are being held each day under the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) than ever before in history, but far fewer are being deported overall.
The Washington Post reported that about 50,000 immigrants have been detained on any given day this year and, according to ICE data, nearly 70% of them have no prior criminal conviction. President Donald Trump, despite his anti-immigrant rhetoric, also has deported far fewer foreigners than former President Barack Obama.
Obama removed 409,849 people in 2012 alone and deported 1.18 million people just during his first three years in office. In that same time period, Trump has deported fewer than 800,000 people.
Under Trump, ICE is also detaining people longer, according to the Post. In 2009, the average length of stay for people who had not faced criminal charges was around a month. Now, it is twice that, with non-criminals being held around 60 days, according to ICE’s data.
“ICE has sort of declared open season on immigrants,” Michael Tan, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told the Post. “So you’re seeing people who under the previous administration would have been eligible for bond and release being kept in custody.”
ICE acknowledged to the Post that overall deportation numbers have declined during Trump’s presidency, but it tried to portray an increase in the number of deportations by comparing 2017’s “interior removals” during the first eight months of Trump’s term with the same eight-month period from 2016, which showed a 37% increase. Interior removals are those apprehended away from the border.
“The increase in ICE’s detained population this year was directly tied to the border crisis,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told the Post. “About 75% of ICE’s detention book-ins in fiscal year 2019 came directly from the border.”