With three weeks to go until the end of the 2017 fiscal year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement had deported just 211,068 immigrants, roughly 30,000 less than in the 2016 fiscal year and nearly half of the 410,000 deported in 2012. But as of Sept. 9, ICE had made 43% more arrests year-over-year, reports the Washington Post. Why hasn't that translated into more deportations? According to ICE agents, policy experts, and immigration lawyers, illegal border crossings are down, reducing the number of would-be immigrants who can be more rapidly deported. There has also been a boost in financial support for advocacy groups offering free legal help for those facing deportation.
Of those arrested between Jan. 22 and Sept. 2, 28,000 are "non-criminal" violators, triple what it was for the same period in 2016. An Atlanta immigration attorney says the increase, and the overall increase in ICE arrests, shows ICE agents are targeting "low-hanging fruit": relatives of alleged violators and immigrants who've agreed to regular meetings with ICE. Arrests are ongoing. In a four-day span ending Wednesday, 498 people—64% with criminal convictions—were arrested in a crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities" like Los Angeles and Denver, reports the New York Times. Because of pro bono legal help from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center leading to a backlog of cases, however, it could be years before detainees are deported, the Post reports. (Read more deportation stories.)