ICE arresting more people with prior criminal convictions

An ICE arrest can happen a variety of ways, resulting from a tip or a workplace raid. However, in most cases ICE takes a person into custody after local law enforcement has arrested them. A criminal conviction is always serious, but for non-citizens the consequence could be deportation.


Arrestees profile is changing

A study by the Pew Research Center found that 74 percent of immigrants arrested by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency had prior criminal convictions. An additional 16 percent had pending criminal charges. Comparatively, in 2009, the first year with comparable data, only 38 percent of arrestees had past criminal convictions. In the Phoenix area, arrests for immigrants with prior convictions increased 44 percent in 2017 and by 20 percent in the last eight years.

Among those arrested with prior charges the top five crimes were driving under the influence, possession of dangerous drugs, traffic offenses, false claims of citizenship and assault. Although the crimes were all relatively minor offenses, even lesser crimes can be reason enough for deportation.

Criminal alien

Legal non-citizens and immigrants in the country illegally are at risk for detainment and deportation. U.S. immigration law does not have a strict definition of a "criminal alien" and the term is used broadly when making arrests. Currently a criminal alien can be a legal or illegal immigrant who has committed a crime. He or she may have already paid a fine, served time or be currently incarcerated. Even without serving jail time, the immigration laws are unforgiving for those with a criminal conviction.

Failing to take action

Although most of the arrestees were convicted for minor crimes and were not incarcerated, lack of jail time does not mean immigration status is secure. Additionally, the fear of deportation can lead a non-citizen to ignore the charges and fail to appear in court. No matter how small the violation or criminal charge, it is best to be compliant and seek legal advice for deportation defense as soon as possible.

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