The claim that an overwhelming majority of immigrants targeted in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids last week were convicted criminals is correct and backed by hard numbers, despite skepticism from House Democrats.
The raids stretched from California to New York, where more than 680 unauthorized immigrants “who pose a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation’s immigration system” were apprehended for deportation and jail, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a statement.
Kelly added that of the nearly 700 immigrants arrested, “approximately 75 percent were criminal aliens, convicted of crimes including, but not limited to, homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.”
But Democrats were not initially convinced of Kelly's claim. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that there is a cloud of doubt around the 75 percent figure, on which ICE should further elaborate:
“I haven’t seen any statistics that support that claim. I have a great deal of respect for [Secretary Kelly], but by observation that is hard to support.”
After Democrats levied concerns, ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan gave a handful of House members, which included Republicans, a briefing Thursday to discuss the recent raids.
Afterward, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) told reporters the takeaway from the meeting was that “the universe of people who are priority for removal is greatly expanded” and that many more raids are expected in the future. Sanchez added that ICE's only limitations are due to their relatively small resources and manpower.
Independent Journal Review obtained a copy of the list of various criminal offenses provided to the members by Director Homan, which shows that Kelly was correct in his assertion that the crimes were of a severe nature.
There were 161 DUIs, 47 cases of domestic violence, 15 assaults with an aggravated weapon, 15 cases of sex offense/fondling against a child and dozens of other cases of sexual and violent crimes.
In total, 507 of the 683 apprehended immigrants had criminal convictions, on par with Kelly's claim of 75 percent. However, as Democrats noted, some of the crimes were less severe, including traffic violations and shoplifting.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) told IJR, “If they’re lawbreakers, there are consequences to breaking the law,” adding:
“I don’t understand why we defend criminals. I don’t understand it. If the other side of the aisle wants to defend the criminals, I guess that could be their thing.”
Perry added that his understanding from the Donald Trump administration is that the immediate focus was going to be on immigrants with criminal convictions, and that it would make sense to target the most severe first.
“I don’t know what their threshold is, but once again we’re talking about the crime,” he said.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article misidentified Rep. Sanchez. It has been corrected.