This year, the number of arrests rose to 30,473, officials reported.
Arrests of immigrants suspected to be in the US illegally soared in the early months of the Trump administration, in part because of a surge in the detention of immigrants who have no criminal convictions, officials announced Wednesday.
The Trump administration's rush to remove any and all undocumented immigrants has resulted in an nearly 40 percent increase in immigration arrests - with the largest arrest spike being in immigrants with no criminal offense other than being undocumented, according to a new government report released Wednesday.
Of those arrests, three-quarters were convicted criminals, ICE said. But the data show that the biggest jump in arrests involved undocumented immigrants without a criminal record, a 156% increase from past year.More news: Harry Styles Shares Political Inspirations Behind 'Sign of the Times'
"ICE agents and officers have been given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the arrest of convicted criminal aliens", ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan was quoted as saying in the statement.
Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a group that advocates for immigrants, said Trump's public comments about going after the most risky immigrants were a diversion from his goal: mass deportations. "The day is over when they can stay in our country and wreak havoc".
"Those that enter the country illegally, they do violate the law, that is a criminal act", said Mr Homan. But there was also a significant jump - of more than 150 per cent - in the number of immigrants not convicted of further crimes arrested by ICE. In that order, the president expanded the pool of undocumented immigrants considered "priorities" for deportation.
Under Obama, ICE agents who were conducting raids or seeking specific individuals could generally not arrest other undocumented immigrants they encountered along the way.More news: North Korea Renews Accusation of CIA Assassination Plot
ICE agents arrest a foreign national in Los Angeles on February 7.
Almost 75% of the ICE arrests under the Trump administration were for convicted criminals, according to the agency. "All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States", said Matthew Bourke, a spokesman for ICE.
Homan said the agency removed 56,315 people from the U.S.in that time period, a 12% drop from the same period in 2016.More news: White House goes blue to honor nation's police officers