The U.S. deported more than 256,000 people in fiscal 2018, Homeland Security announced Friday, as the Trump administration’s tougher policies took full effect.
But more than 560,000 other immigrants living in the U.S. illegally are fugitives, at large in communities though they have been ordered deported, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a report detailing its enforcement for the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.
Acting ICE chief Ronald D. Vitiello warned that his agency might have to release more people from detention because ICE’s finances are being stretched so far, facing interior challenges and a new surge at the border.
He said the same thing happened because of budget constraints during the Obama administration in 2013, when a “large” set of immigrants, including some with serious criminal records, were set free.
“We’re worried that might happen to us again,” Mr. Vitiello said.
Of the 256,000 total deportations, 145,262 were convicted criminals, and 22,796 had criminal charges pending. The others were snared and ousted on immigration charges.
Among those removed last year were nearly 5,900 known or suspected gang members.
More than 95,000 of those deported were from ICE arrests from the interior of the U.S., marking a major surge.
But at-large arrests — those made by teams of officers out in the field — was up only 1 percent, Mr. Vitiello said. He said that’s because ICE personnel have had to be deployed to the border to deal with the massive surge of immigrants attempting to cross the border illegally, particularly children and families.
He said without more money, the agency will soon face tough choices about enforcement.
Under the previous administration, immigrants living in the U.S. who didn’t have major criminal records or multiple misdemeanors generally were ignored once they were in the interior. That kept over 80 percent of immigrant living in the U.S. without permission out of serious danger of deportation.
The Trump administration, while still focusing on criminals, has said rank-and-file immigrants living in the U.S. illegally are once again targets.
Still, the 95,00 deportations from the interior are less than 1 percent of the 10.7 million unauthorized migrants the Pew Research Center says were in the country as of 2016.