Changing Patterns of Interior Immigration Enforcement in the United States, 2016 -2018

Guillermo Cantor, Ph.D., Emily Ryo, J.D., Ph.D. and Reed Humphrey
Date of Publication: 
July, 2019
Source Organization: 
American Immigration Council

There have been significant changes in the way Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operates under the Trump administration compared to the Obama administration. In this report, the authors examine changes in ICE activities from the last part of the Obama administration to the first part of the Trump administration. Their analysis reveals differences in interior enforcement strategies, groups targeted for deportation, and the geographic locus of enforcement activities. By analyzing data provided by ICE, this study found that the overall number of encounters and arrests increased under the Trump administration: encounters for the month of January 2016, for example, amounted to 27,540, but rose to 38,298 in January of 2018. An examination of who has been subject to interior enforcement revealed a striking increase in the number of U.S. citizens encountered by ICE under Trump. The study also found that ICE encountered and arrested more women in the first part of the Trump administration than in the last part of the Obama administration. While some enforcement strategies showed continuity across administrations, the first year of the Trump administration saw a significant increase in both at-large and custodial arrests. The geographic distribution of at-large arrests has been uneven, with the cities of Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Phoenix experiencing the greatest increases. The authors suggest that further research is needed in order to understand why certain groups and geographic areas have become more vulnerable to ICE actions under Trump. (Courtney Grant for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Cantor, G., Ryo, E., & Humphrey, R. (2019). Changing Patterns of Interior Immigration Enforcement in the United States, 2016 -2018. American Immigration Council. Retrieved from