U.S. increasingly arrests unauthorized immigrants without criminal past in Philly region

 Community members gather for a  vigil for Jonatan Palacios Euceda  at the Central Presbyterian Church in Norristown May 13, two days after he was arrested by immigration officers. (Lillie Williams)

Community members gather for a vigil for Jonatan Palacios Euceda at the Central Presbyterian Church in Norristown May 13, two days after he was arrested by immigration officers. (Lillie Williams)

During the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, Philadelphia immigrations officers arrested more than twice the number of unauthorized immigrants without criminal convictions than during the same period last year.

More recent numbers suggest that the greatest uptick in arrests is not among criminal offenders, but those with immigration-related offenses. This week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Philadelphia office announced 186 arrests took place during a 10-day period in May, across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware. The largest number, 141, were in Pennsylvania.

While that release highlights the arrest of a registered sex offender from Guatemala and a person from Jamaica with a prior criminal assault conviction, fewer than a third of those taken  into custody were convicted criminals.

Twenty-six had final orders of removal from an immigration judge.

Lillie William’s husband, Jonatan Palacios Euceda, was arrested outside of their home in Haverford on May 11 on the basis of such an order.

Palacios Euceda, 27, had missed a hearing with an immigration judge nine years ago, earning him the removal order. But his wife said he had no criminal record.

“The people being taken aren’t scary criminals, as it might be painted on some news channels, they’re people like Jonatan,” she said. Her husband is currently held at York County Prison while Williams, a U.S. citizen, petitions for his release. She said the couple, married since 2015, had filed paperwork to reopen his case and put him on the path to a green card.

Philadelphia immigrations officials, who declined an interview on the newest arrest numbers, said in a statement the arrests are “targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy.”

The numbers

Jan. 20 – April 29, 2017

Total removals by Philadelphia field office (in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia): 1084Convicted criminals: 662Other priorities: 422

Jan. 20 – April 29, 2016

Total removals: 871Convicted criminals: 670Other priorities: 201

May 15-24, 2017:

Total arrests: 186Convicted criminals: 58Other priorities: 128

All numbers provided by the Philadelphia office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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