In the federal government’s first fiscal year entirely under President Trump, ICE detained more people than a year earlier, but still lags behind Obama-era highs. Fiscal year 2018, which ran from October 1, 2017 to September 31, 2018, saw 396,448 people detained by ICE and 256,085 removed from the United States, ICE reported.
ICE’s detention capacity has grown in recent years. Under President Obama, Congress regularly increased the agency’s budget for confinement operations. The agency uses over 600 facilities spread throughout the United States, many of which are nothing more than county jails from which ICE rents bed space. ICE’s FY 2018 detention population represents an increase of 72,857 over FY 2017. Despite that growth, the first reporting year for which Trump can fully take credit pales in comparison to the all-time high of 477,523 hit in FY 2012. While Trump can’t brag about having the largest detention population, ICE’s detention efforts remain historically anomalous.
In addition to detaining hundreds of thousands of people, ICE also busied itself removing more people than the previous year. In FY 2017, ICE forced out of the United States 226,119 people, approximately 30,000 fewer than in FY 2018.
Of the people removed in FY 2018, roughly 57 percent (145,262 people) had been convicted of a crime. ICE provided no information about the types of crimes those people had been convicted of. This follows the trend of the last several years. As I wrote in 2017, “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.”
Most people removed were Mexican citizens, with Northern Triangle Central Americans, collectively, following closely behind. In FY 2018, 141,045 Mexicans were removed—approximately 55 percent of the total number of people removed that year. Another 94,729 citizens of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, combined, were removed—approximately 37 percent. In FY 2018, there were slightly more Mexicans removed than the previous year when 128,765 people were forcibly expelled from the United States, though a slightly lower as a percentage (57 percent) of that year’s total. For Northern Triangle Central America, the opposite was true. In FY 2017, there were 74,789 citizens of these three countries removed, representing 33 percent of that year’s total.