Playing a numbers game, USA Today reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “set a record for arrests of undocumented immigrants who don’t have a criminal record.”
The claim, which suggests that “non-criminals” are being swept up en masse, is as politically correct as the “undocumented” moniker the newspaper applies to illegal aliens.
ICE’s Fiscal Year 2018 report, from which USA Today gleaned its story line, tells the fuller story: “[As in FY2017,] nine out of 10 ICE arrests had criminal conviction(s), pending charge(s), were ICE fugitives or illegally re-entered the country after previously being removed.”
Common sense would include all these individuals as criminal actors. Media outlets weave a misleading narrative by counting only the first category and excluding the rest.
Fortunately, ICE frames the big picture. As Nathalie Asher, acting head of the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations division, aptly put it: “One hundred percent of those arrested are immigration violators.”
While reporting the deportation of 256,085 illegal aliens last year (up from 226,119 in 2017 and 240,255 in 2016), ICE said: “We continue to prioritize [our]limited resources on public safety threats and immigration violators.”
If the media want to practice journalism that serves the public interest, they ought to objectively examine those strained resources and the hurdles that ICE confronts in carrying out its mission.
With the proliferation of so-called sanctuary policies, more jurisdictions and local law-enforcement agencies have stopped communicating with ICE. That lack of cooperation undermines ICE’s ability to detain illegal aliens when they are released from local jails. This makes ICE’s job more difficult, more resource-intensive and, ultimately, less efficient – all of which helps explain why arrests were down 12 percent from the previous year.
That’s the bigger story.