WASHINGTON — The Trump administration significantly stepped up its arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants last year, according to government data released Friday, even as other parts of the president’s hard-line immigration agenda have been blocked by Congress and courts.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it arrested about 59,000 foreigners during the 2018 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, an increase of 11 percent from the previous year.
About 90 percent of the people arrested had criminal convictions, were facing pending criminal charges or had been previously issued a final deportation order by an immigration judge.
Officials said they also deported 256,085 people last year, a 13 percent increase from fiscal year 2017.
That included 5,914 undocumented immigrants, 5,872 known or suspected gang members and 42 suspected terrorists, the agency’s data show.
On Friday, agency officials called the increases a result of an executive order by President Trump to rescind an earlier policy that prioritized the arrests and deportations of foreigners who had criminal records, or those who posed a threat to public safety.
The new policy, which Mr. Trump signed in early 2017, is not selective about which illegal immigrants should be arrested or deported first.
Critics said the stepped up enforcement has led to the arrest of undocumented immigrants for minor violations, or who pose no security threat.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been widely criticized for arresting parents as they dropped off children at school and for raiding businesses, including a nationwide sweep of 7-Eleven stores that resulted in charges against fewer than two dozen. Some Democrats have called for the agency to be abolished.
Ronald D. Vitiello, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the arrests and deportations have increased public safety, and made communities safer.
He also said the numbers show the need for Congress to provide enough resources to keep up with a surge in migrants arriving at the Southwest border, and prodded lawmakers to increase the number of beds needed for detention. Over all, the number of migrants apprehended at the border is far behind the peak of 1.6 million in 2000.
He said the construction of a border wall, as Mr. Trump has demanded, “would give us less work to do.”
“It would reduce the workload across the board,” said Mr. Vitiello, a former Border Patrol agent.
Most of the arrests of immigrants included charges of driving under the influence, drug violations and breaking immigration laws, the data show.
Over the last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement also has increased the number of “detainers” it issues, asking state and local law enforcement agencies to hold undocumented immigrants until they can be retrieved, within 48 hours as required.
The agency said it issued 177,147 detainers in the 2018 fiscal year — an increase of 24 percent from the previous year. The increase came even as several cities and states have passed laws to prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Agency officials said the refusal to honor detainers has led to dangerous criminals being released. In his first week in office, Mr. Trump signed an executive order threatening to withhold billions of federal dollars from cities and counties that ignored I.C.E. requests. The order is being fought in the courts.
The tougher immigration enforcement has, at times, caused internal conflict at the agency.
In the letter, the investigators said the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented migrants had limited their ability to pursue national security threats, child pornography offenses and transnational crime.
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