WASHINGTON - The Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration is producing big results as D.C., Maryland and Virginia have together seen thousands of people arrested. While immigration advocates say the hardline enforcement is unfair, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said they are just getting started.
There is no part of the D.C. region that has not seen an increase in immigration enforcement. A new report released on Tuesday shows immigration enforcement under the Trump administration has been in overdrive. In this year alone, there has been a 92 percent jump in arrests of criminal illegal immigrants and an 83 percent surge in MS-13 arrests.
At ICE headquarters on Tuesday, Acting Director Thomas Homan declared his agency in 2017 has been unleashed to carry out its mission.
"If you're in this country illegally and you enter this country illegally, which is a crime within itself - let's remember that - and yet you commit a crime against a citizen of this country, you are a priority for arrest," said Homan.
So far this year, D.C. and Virginia combined saw 4,163 people arrested in ICE raids. While in Maryland, 1,666 people were arrested in immigration enforcement operations, according to data provided by ICE.
Federal officials said stopping the flow of illegal immigration is key to stopping violent gangs such as MS-13.
Illegal border crossings are also down. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they have recorded the lowest level of illegal cross-border migration on record. Despite illegal crossings being down, officials pushed back against questions that President Donald Trump's border wall is no longer needed.
"It's good that the numbers are down," said Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner for Customs and Border Protection. "The border is in more control than it has been in quite some time, but this is a time to accelerate those gains, and having an enforcement zone and having the equipment for our agents to operate safely will prevent future problems for us."
The pro-immigration group CASA said in part in a statement:
"The Trump administration has been unapologetic about its war on immigrant families and a deeply problematic enforcement agency at ICE has been only too happy to carry out orders intended to de-diversify this country."
CASA is planning to hold a rally Wednesday on Capitol Hill.