ICE detainees with serious criminal convictions drops during Trump administration

DHS logo -- public domain

[With the immigrant population growing in Cobb County, and the relationship between Cobb County and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) in the news frequently, the Courier is increasing its coverage of immigration issues]

According to a news release from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, despite the increased number of immigrants detained by ICE, the number who have serious criminal convictions have declined during the Trump administration.

Over the same period immigrants detained within the least serious category (misdemeanors including traffic offenses) rose.

And the majority of detainees have no criminal convictions at all.

The report states:

The number of individuals convicted of L1 offenses (i.e. serious felonies) fell from between 7,500 and 8,000 in 2017 to just above 6,000 in April of this year. Meanwhile, Level 3 offenders, those convicted of at most a misdemeanor, have climbed steadily from just over 6,000 to nearly 9,500 in 2019.

TRAC’s analysis identified the top three most common convictions for categories L1, L2, and L3 over 500,000 detention records. The most common convictions under Level 1 were assault (15,557), burglary (6,788), and drug trafficking (5,741). Overall, L1 convictions declined 19 percent. The most common convictions under Level 2 over all data were larceny (7,463), illegal re-entry (4,193), and weapons offenses (3,000). The growth in Level 3 convictions is driven by traffic-related convictions and unlawful entry. The most common convictions under Level 3 over all data were driving under the influence or DUI (27,210), illegal entry (23,783), and traffic offenses (10,567).

Despite the justification given by the administration for the immigration crackdown, gang-related crimes, terrorism and election fraud are rare among the detainees.

The press release states:

Out of 13 comprehensive data profiles of 500,000 detention records listing ICE detainees’ most serious criminal conviction, two detainees (0.004%) had election-related convictions as their most serious conviction, 68 detainees (0.0123%) had been convicted of terrorism, and 82 detainees (0.0149%) had been convicted of gang activity. These data suggest an ongoing disconnect between belief and reality regarding immigration and crime.

The report did not include immigrants who were detained who have no criminal convictions, which is now the majority of all detainees.

What is TRAC?

TRAC is a data-gathering and research project headquartered at Syracuse University.

According to the TRAC website:

The purpose of TRAC is to provide the American people — and institutions of oversight such as Congress, news organizations, public interest groups, businesses, scholars and lawyers — with comprehensive information about staffing, spending, and enforcement activities of the federal government. On a day-to-day basis, what are the agencies and prosecutors actually doing? Who are their employees and what are they paid? What do agency actions indicate about the priorities and practices of government? How do the activities of an agency or prosecutor in one community compare with those in a neighboring one or the nation as a whole? How have these activities changed over time? How does the record of one administration compare with the next? When the head of an agency or a district administrator changed, were there observable differences in actual enforcement priorities? When a new law was enacted or amended, what impact did it have on agency activities?

An essential step in the process of providing this information to the public is TRAC’s systematic and informed use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).