Since Donald Trump became president, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested 41,318 people known or suspected of being in the country illegally - a 37.6 percent increase over the same period in 2016.
- 41,300 immigrants were arrested on suspicion of being in the country illegally between January 22 and April. 29, up from 30,000 during a similar year-earlier period.
While ICE touted the increase over past year, the numbers are similar to arrest rates during the Obama administration before a prioritization system was created by then-Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson in late 2014.
Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan said the increase came because of stepped up enforcement by the agents.
Non-criminals - that is, people without legal status in the US who have not been charged with or convicted of a crime - surged 150 percent from the first day of Trump's administration to the end of April, up from 4,372 last year to 10,934 this year, according to additional data provided to VOA by ICE on Wednesday.
Most of those arrested had criminal convictions but one in four arrested immigrants did not.
"Their job is to enforce the law, and that is exactly what they're doing, he said".
On Jan. 25, five days after he took office, Trump signed an executive order that ended the "catch and release" policy that ICE agents followed for undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes.
Under Obama, undocumented immigrants had to be a gang member, convicted of a felony, or convicted of several misdemeanors to be deemed a deportation priority.
But advocates for immigrants have protested the arrests of immigrants with no criminal records who were not targeted by the previous administration of President Barack Obama.
Almost 75% of the ICE arrests under the Trump administration were for convicted criminals, according to the agency.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, left, searches Esteban Amigon while green card holder Sergio Rodriguez removes his belt and shoelaces while they are processed the ICE downtown staging facility in Los Angeles on April 18, 2017.
"All of those arrested will receive the due process afforded to them under the law", Homan said.
ICE agents arrest a foreign national in Los Angeles on February 7.
He attributed the drop to a decline in arrests on the U.S. -Mexico border where immigrants are usually shipped home quickly and a lengthy backlog in U.S. immigration courts that issue deportation orders.