On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a new report outlining the number of arrests of illegal immigrants during the fiscal year 2016. And some of the information contained in that report presents an alarming connection between those coming into the country illegally and criminal activity.
A summary of the report gives credit to a rise in arrests to increased state and local cooperation and increased border security by the U.S. military. DHS also points to the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) and its activities for an increase in “removals” of criminal illegal immigrants.
Priority 1 (top priority) includes:
- Aliens engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage
- Aliens who pose a danger to national security
- Aliens apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States
- Aliens convicted of an offense involving a criminal street gang
Priority 2 includes:
- Aliens convicted of three or more separate misdemeanor offenses, not including minor traffic offenses or immigration offenses
- Aliens convicted of a “significant misdemeanor,” including domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, burglary, unlawful possession or use of a firearm, drug distribution or trafficking and driving under the influence
Priority 3 (lowest priority) includes:
- Aliens who have been issued a final order of removal after January 1, 2014
The annual report revealed five alarming facts about apprehensions of illegal immigrants in the United States last fiscal year.
1. ICE “removed” 240,255 individuals — a drastic reduction since Obama began his second term:
In FY 2016, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed just 2% more individuals who were here illegally than they did in 2015. But even more disturbing is that this figure is a 41% decrease from 2012 — the last year of President Barack Obama's first term in office.
2. 58% of all ICE removals have been convicted of a crime:
The report indicated that 138,669 immigrants who were apprehended and removed were previously convicted of a crime. ICE classified 2,057 aliens as confirmed or suspected gang members.
Only 44% of those known criminals (78,351 individuals) were stopped and apprehended at the border, meaning a significant number of criminals successfully entered the United States before being caught.
3. 73% of those sent home were apprehended at or near the border:
In FY 2016, 174,923 individuals were stopped and arrested at or near the border or ports of entry.
The report indicates that U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended approximately 94% of those individuals — who were later processed, detained, and removed by ICE — at the border.
The other 6% were apprehended at ports of entry.
4. 27% were already well inside the U.S. before they were caught:
Of the total amount of removals for the year, 65,332 people were not discovered until they were within America's borders.
5. Of those who made it into the U.S. without being stopped at the border, 92% have committed a crime:
The report doesn't specify how many of the individuals attempted to re-enter the country after previously being removed, nor does it address what crimes they had been convicted of.
Over the last few years, Americans have seen multiple cases of dangerous illegal immigrants violently attacking, even killing, their fellow citizens after having already been deported multiple times.
One such case happened on July 1, 2015, when 32-year-old Kate Steinle was killed by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez in San Francisco, California. Lopez-Sanchez was an illegal immigrant, seven-time felon, and had previously been deported five times.
Since San Francisco is a sanctuary city, officials there released Steinle's killer after his arrest in March without notifying ICE. Sanctuary cities have policies in place that encourage a lack of cooperation or even an obstruction of federal immigration enforcement.
Just four months ago, another victim senselessly suffered at the hands of a man who never should have been in this country.
In September, 2016, a 13-year-old girl was raped by a 38-year-old man on a Greyhound bus in Kansas. Tomas Martinez-Maldonado, a Mexican citizen, was arrested and jailed for the crime. As heinous as the details of the crime were, they scarcely scratch the surface of his disturbing past.
Martinez-Maldonado, an undocumented immigrant, has been sent back to Mexico 19 times. Of those 19 times, he was formally deported 10 times and was “voluntarily removed” (waived a hearing and asked to be returned to Mexico) 9 other times.
According to the Associated Press, his removal record includes:
- Eight voluntary removals before 2010
- First deportation in 2010, followed by another voluntary removal that year
- Five deportations between 2011 and 2013
- Misdemeanor conviction in 2013 and 2015 for entering without legal permission, for which he spent 60 and 165 days behind bars, respectively
- Two deportations in 2014
- Two deportations in 2015, with the last occurring in October
An increase in stories similar to these two cases have brought the issue of policies that protect repeat immigration offenders to the forefront of the political arena and the attention of everyday Americans.
President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on strong immigration reform. He has repeatedly expressed support for Kate's Law, legislation named after Kate Steinle, which would impose a mandatory minimum 5-year sentence on any illegal immigrant who re-enters the country after being deported.
During Trump's first “60 Minutes” interview after winning the election, he said his immigration plan will include a continual focus on the removal of criminal illegal immigrants.
He told Lesley Stahl:
“What we are going to do is get the people who are criminal and have criminal records...we're getting them out of the country."
Donald Trump also vowed to block taxpayer dollars from reaching sanctuary cities that insist on keeping the practices in place which continue to allow so many “needless deaths” to occur.