The number of people detained and removed by DHS during the 2017 fiscal year dropped when compared to 2016, the last full fiscal year under President Obama. Government data released Tuesday show that DHS detained 323,591 people and removed 226,119 people in FY 2017, most of which elapsed under President Trump’s watch.
ICE’s detention network famously reached a massive scale under President Obama. Tuesday’s release indicates that ICE held about 30,000 fewer people over the course of 2017. Described as an “initial book-in,” ICE took into its custody 352,882 people in FY 2016 and 307,342 people in FY 2015. Despite the drop from 2016, this remains historically high.
Likewise, the government’s data indicates a drop in the number of people forcibly removed from the United States. In FY 2016, ICE removed 240,255 under an order of removal. The previous year it removed 235,413 people. Despite the lower number of removals, the percentage of people removed who had a criminal record remained fairly constant. In FY 2017, 56 percent of people removed had a criminal history, compared to 58 percent in FY 2016 and 59 percent in FY 15. Importantly, ICE did not disclose the type of crimes for which these people had been convicted—or even if they had been convicted at all.
Separately, DHS’s release breaks from past reporting practices in two ways that make year-to-year comparisons difficult. First, ICE’s enforcement activities data report lists all crimes for which a person had been convicted. In past years, ICE had focused on the most serious offense. Second, Tuesday’s report identifies crimes for which a person had merely been charged. In the United States, a person who has been charged is presumed innocent as a matter of law. In keeping with Trump administration policy, DHS’s report tars people charged with an offense identically as people convicted of an offense.