Immigration

Immigration Authorities Cite Fewer Serious Crimes In Deportation Paperwork

Immigration authorities are referencing criminal activity less often in their paperwork, reflecting a shift in enforcement priorities.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrest company employees on federal immigration violations at a trailer-manufacturing business in Sumner, Texas.

Serious crimes are showing up less and less in deportation paperwork filed by federal officials, according to new data from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). 

Serious criminal activity was cited in 3% of 24,000 deportation-related court filings in the Houston area over the last nine months, including data from immigration courts in Conroe and Houston. 

Nationally, only 2.8% of recent deportation-related filings were based on alleged criminal activity.

The TRAC report also shows that nationally, criminal activity as a reason for deportation has dropped in half in the last five years.

“Where previous administrations had focused on people with criminal convictions, the natural, logical conclusion is a higher percentage of people were going to be those without criminal convictions, because they are just picking up everybody,” said Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative deportation defense attorney Julie Pasch.

In January 2017, the Trump administration did away with immigration enforcement priorities that encouraged Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target dangerous criminals for removal. 

“Under the Trump administration there are a new set of priorities and essentially anyone [in the country without documentation] is a priority now,” said Susan Long, director of Syracuse University’s TRAC research center.

However, just because a serious crime isn’t cited, doesn’t mean someone didn’t commit a crime, according to Pasch. 

Sometimes prosecutors list a lesser immigration offense because it’s easier to prove, she said. 

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