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ICE Focus Shifts Away from Detaining Serious Criminals

“As of December 31, 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had 47,486 individuals in its custody. The number of ICE detainees was up 22 percent from the 38,810 persons ICE held at the end of September 2016. Results are based on case-by-case records recently obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. The most striking change over this 27-month period was a dramatic drop in the number of individuals held who had committed serious crimes. Despite the increasing number of individuals ICE detained, fewer and fewer immigrants convicted of serious felonies were arrested and held in custody by the agency. Their numbers had dropped by over twelve hundred (-1,253), while total ICE detainees ballooned by over eighty-six hundred (8,676) during the same period. Immigrants who had never been convicted of even a minor violation shot up 39 percent. Individuals were held by ICE in a total of 215 different facilities. ICE detainees increasingly were at facilities located in Texas, Georgia and Mississippi. In contrast, California, Washington and New York experienced a decline in the number of immigrants held at facilities in those states. The length of detention varied. One detainee had been locked up by ICE in October 2007 – more than eleven and a half years ago – and was still detained at the end of December 2018. While most had been recently detained, ten percent of immigrants according to ICE records had been held for 6 months or more.”

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