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Number of immigrant arrests in Phoenix area on the rise in 2017

In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, foreign nationals are arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles. (Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)

PHOENIX — Nearly 1,000 immigrants were arrested in the Phoenix area from January through mid-March of this year, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 986 immigrants in the Phoenix area from Jan. 20 to March 13, a number that spiked from the 2016 numbers over the same time period. Just one year prior, only 864 immigrants were arrested by border agents.

However, the statistic from 2017 seemed to be on the decline compared to the numbers from 2014 and 2015. During the same time period in 2014, 1,209 immigrants were arrested in the Phoenix area, compared to 1,046 in 2015.

The number of non-criminal immigrants who were arrested in 2017 also climbed steadily compared to years prior.

Out of the 986 immigrants arrested in 2017, 315 did not have a criminal record. In 2016, 253 non-criminal immigrants were arrested, compared to 264 immigrants in 2015 and 408 in 2014.

In addition to the number of immigrants who were arrested, 1,157 immigrants were detained from January to March 2017. Only 684 immigrants were detained over the same time period in 2016, compared to 1,136 immigrants in 2015 and 1,354 in 2014.

According to The Washington Post, immigration arrests nationwide rose more than 32 percent during the first weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Border agents arrested 21,362 immigrants in 2017, compared to 16,104 in the same period last year.

But the statistic that supports the theory that “Trump has ditched his predecessor’s protective stance toward most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States,” the Post reported, is the number of arrests of non-criminal immigrants. That number has doubled to 5,441 nationwide, according to the data.

In a statement to The Washington Post, ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said in a statement that the agency “focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.

“However, as [Homeland Security] Secretary [John F.] Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” she added.

Arizona made the immigration spotlight this year after two undocumented immigrants — Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos and Juan Carlos Fomperosa Garcia — were detained and deported following routine check-ins with ICE following Trump’s immigration executive order.

The arrests garnered controversy among pro-immigration groups, who argued that the deportations were simply splitting up families and were not for the public good.

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