President Donald Trump already stressed his position on immigration even earlier on during his presidential campaign. Following his election, he stayed true to his pledge and initiated one of the heaviest crackdowns on undocumented immigration in current US history, causing panic among many minority communities across the United States.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers set out to pursue and track down many undocumented aliens as they could, arresting large numbers of people—so much so that the entire court system is currently struggling to handle the massive influx of cases.
Ever since President Trump signed his executive order on immigration enforcement, ICE officers, “unleashed” by the President, have arrested over 41.000 people all over the country, even on grounds of suspicion of being in the US illegally. Following Trump’s directives, the number of arrests increased by over 40% since last year.
Los Angeles County is the area registering the highest number of arrests in the state of California, following by Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura, just to mention a few. Over 2.273 administrative arrests were made throughout the greater Los Angeles Area by ICE – with 2,049 actually being criminal aliens.
For those who might not know, a “criminal alien” is the definition of an undocumented immigrant who committed a deportable criminal offense in the United States—it is not a criminal offense to be merely unlawfully present in the United States—violations of our immigration laws, with a few exceptions, such as smuggling, are merely civil offenses.
According to ICE officials, over 75% of people arrested by the authorities had committed crimes.
According to CBS News, about 80% of the people arrested were actually undocumented immigrants from Mexico, while the rest were identified as Guatemalan, Armenian and Russian.
This massive increase in arrests is putting a huge strain on a court system that already had issues of overcrowding even before Trump’s executive orders.
Ironically, the government has invested a lot of resources and money into strengthening immigration enforcement and detention but failed to develop and expand the capacity of immigration courts. To put things in perspective, the immigration enforcement budget has increased by 105% over the past couple of years, and it will continue to increase with Trump’s new budget plans for 2018. On the other hand, the budget allocated to immigration courts has only increased by 74% over the past 13 years.
The issue is certainly raising many eyebrows: Los Angeles immigration lawyer and founder of the “Fogle Law Firm”, Glenn Fogle, stated that “immigrants offer many great benefits to the United States” and that “they should be offered expert legal assistance and given the opportunities to resolve their situations in a timely manner, rather than being detained and rushed through an overburdened judicial system.”
Many driven law firms and non-profit institutions are doing what they can to help immigrants, but waiting lists remain rather long. The main problem is that currently there are not enough facilities to handle the load, with almost 600.000 pending court cases registered.