Obama administration nears end of term and ICE arrests drop further as estimate of population outstrips under Bush
The drop in arrests by immigration agents appears to be indicative of an end to the Obama administration. ICE arrests dropped sharply from 32,322 in FY 2009 to 16,029 in FY 2010, and haven’t recovered since, hitting a new low of 11,116 arrests in FY 2013.
But the arrests have steadily increased in subsequent years. ICE’s fiscal year begins in October and, by design, follows the start of the new fiscal year in October. Arrests have grown every year since FY 2009 and over the past four years have almost doubled, from 12,560 in FY 2011 to 20,369 in FY 2013.
Human Rights Watch estimates that ICE’s figures may be under-reporting the number of deportations by more than 10% each year since 2010. ICE declined to comment on the undocumented population’s fluctuating numbers.
During the Barack Obama presidency, ICE increasingly relied on “in-house” raids and detention as the main method of enforcement. During the Obama presidency, ICE managers increased hiring – from 32,603 in FY 2009 to 42,301 in FY 2011, the highest number of hires in 30 years – and opened new detention facilities. “Diversity” program contractors such as Abell County Jail in Georgia and Southside Montgomery Corrections Center in Alabama also saw an increase in ICE activity. But the staff at large, mostly state and local agencies, are often overwhelmed and ill-equipped to combat sophisticated criminal gang and human trafficking networks. As ICE has become more aggressive, partnerships with local agencies – the bulk of which took place during the Obama years – have largely dried up.
While up to half of the roughly 1,000 immigrant “priorities” targeted by ICE last year were low-priority for deportation, human rights groups noted that these groups were at higher risk of family separation and having their basic needs threatened.
ICE’s arrests have remained relatively stable during the Trump administration’s first year, reaching a high of 17,201 in July and dropping to just under 14,000 in August. And after years of tracking the sharp increases in arrests from FY 2009 to FY 2014, human rights groups are waiting for an increase before declaring a trend.
An ICE representative declined to comment for this article.