Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Wednesday that arrests of suspected undocumented immigrants are up 37.6% compared to this time in 2016. More than 41,000 people have been arrested since President Donald Trump signed a pair of sweeping executive orders targeting illegal immigration.
According to ICE, about 75% of the individuals arrested so far in 2017 were convicted criminals, some 30,473 people, but only about 2,700 of the convictions were violent crimes. President Trump has emphasized his interest in getting serious criminals found to be in the U.S. illegally out of the country, but data shows there has been an expansion in non-criminal arrests as well.
"ICE agents and officers have been given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the arrest of convicted criminal aliens," Acting Director of ICE Thomas Homan said in a statement. "However, when we encounter others who are in the country unlawfully, we will execute our sworn duty and enforce the law."
About 4,200 undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions were arrested during the same period, from late January until the end of April, in 2016. So far in 2017, more than 10,800 non-criminal immigrants have been arrested.
"I get asked a lot why we arrest somebody that’s not a criminal," Homan told USA Today. "Those who do enter the country illegally, they do violate the law, that is a criminal act."
Homan told USA Today that while arrests are up, actual removals are down 12% when compared to 2016. As TIME reported in late April, removals take a while in part due to the backlogged immigration court system. Homan said other factors, including the drop in southern border crossings and the time it takes to deport people living in the U.S., also contribute to the statistic.