The Wall Street Journal: Trump administration arresting far more illegal immigrants without criminal convictions

WASHINGTON — One in three people arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in the first half of fiscal 2018 had no criminal convictions, a result of the Trump administration’s wide net as it pursues illegal immigrants living in the U.S.

During the final years of the Obama administration, in fiscal 2015 and 2016, more than 85% of people arrested by ICE had criminal convictions. But that has fallen as the Trump administration targets a much wider group of people, new data released Thursday show.

The data show how President Donald Trump’s administration is working to change the practices followed under President Barack Obama, when agents were far more selective about who to arrest and deport.

In another development Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said immigration judges don’t have the authority to administratively close cases and directed them to stop doing so. Administrative closures take deportation cases off the courts’ crowded docket and allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country even though they haven’t proven a legal right to do so. They have typically been used in cases where the immigrant has strong ties to the U.S. and no criminal record.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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