Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post
Deportations from the interior of the United States are rising under President Trump as the administration expands enforcement from the U.S.-Mexico border and into immigrant communities deeper inside the country.
From Jan. 22 to Sept. 9, officials deported nearly 54,000 immigrants from the interior, a 34 percent increase over the same period last year, and said that they expect the numbers to climb.
But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement suffered a major blow Thursday when California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation designed to shield thousands of immigrants from deportation. The law takes effect Jan. 1.
“These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families,” the governor wrote after signing the bill limiting the state’s cooperation with ICE. He said the legislation would bring “a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day.”
On Friday, ICE acting director Thomas Homan blasted the law, which he said will “undermine public safety” and compel agents to arrest immigrants at work or home instead of picking them up at jails once they post bail. He also suggested that the law will increase the possibility that undocumented immigrants with no criminal records will be arrested.
“ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have,” he said in a statement.
The California law is the latest contrarian effort since the Trump administration took office vowing to deport undocumented immigrants — including 2 million to 3 million criminals, though it has not come close to doing so.
Federal judges have also temporarily blocked the president’s January executive order that sought to restrict federal funding to what are known as sanctuary cities, which limit their cooperation with immigration agents.
The lawsuits and state policies are playing out amid increasing anxiety among immigrants across the nation. Last month, the Trump administration announced that it will phase out an Obama-era program that protected from deportation 690,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
Congress is considering legislation that would extend protection for the young immigrants, but in exchange, some conservative lawmakers are pushing for increased immigration enforcement.
For now, immigration officials said that they are forging ahead with arrests, which are up more than 40 percent this year. But they acknowledged that sanctuary cities are making it difficult to increase the number of annual deportations to past levels.
Last month, federal agents arrested nearly 500 immigrants in sanctuary cities and towns, including Baltimore and D.C., and vowed to return “every week” if they refuse to cooperate.
Federal records show that 92 percent of the 97,482 immigrants arrested this year for deportation have been convicted of a crime, have charges pending, were immigration fugitives or had been previously deported.