The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday that the agency’s deportations of non-criminal undocumented immigrants has gone from “zero to 100” in the first six months of the Trump administration.
Thomas Homan made the comment during a White House briefing when asked if the administration was highlighting the activity of violent transnational gangs like MS13 to characterize a much larger deportation effort that includes largely law-abiding undocumented people. A reporter referenced reports that the largest spike in deportations under the Trump administration has come from undocumented immigrants without any criminal record.
Remaining in the country without authorization, while still punishable with deportation, is a civil offense — as opposed to criminal offenses like jumping a border fence or forging an identification document.
“Under the prior administration, noncriminals were not a priority,” Homan said. “So when you go from zero to 100, of course you’re going to see the biggest rise in that.”
“The executive orders are clear,” he said. “Anybody who reads the executive orders — no population is off the table. So noncriminals, yeah, those that have got a court order from a judge who refuse to leave, we’re looking for them. Those who enter the country illegally, I’ve said it a hundred times, that is a crime, to enter this country illegally.”
The executive order Homan cited came days after President Trump’s inauguration. It specified that, unlike during the Obama administration, undocumented immigrants even charged with a crime were able to be deported.
Homan said earlier that ICE was prioritizing deportations “based on criminal threats, national security, those who violate immigration law,” casting an broad net.
“Point blank, you’re not going to take advantage of the immigrant communities who are victims [of gang violence], right? They’re not going to be deported?” a reporter asked. Undocumented immigrants are often hesitant to share information about violent crime with local law enforcement for fear that they will be targeted for deportation.
“We’re not looking to arrest a victim of crime,” Homan said. “We’re looking to arrest the bad guy. Right? Now, let me make this clear. Is there a population of illegal aliens that are off the table? I’m not saying that.”