Investigating the REAL Illegal Immigration Crisis


Elvert Barnes

The real crisis. Immigrants all throughout the United States, criminals or not, are being pulled out of their homes and arrested. This was one of the many brutal actions taken against these aliens. Image used via Flickr with permission under Creative Commons.

America. Land of the free and home of the brave. Or at least, that was the moniker this nation used to endorse. However, with the recent events regarding the spike in deportation and haphazard arrests, people are wondering: Is our country really deserving of that title? How can America be the “land of the free” if the right to apply for asylum is snatched from people? How can the United States truly brag about being the “home of the brave” if its citizens are living in fear of being separated from their family each day? While there is a crisis at the border, the problem may not be the number of immigrants entering the country, but the amount of people being forced to leave.

The facts

It is no secret that the election in 2016 paved the way for more and more immigrant arrests, especially that of refugees and illegal immigrants. From the numbers in ICE’s (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) very own fiscal report, the number of immigrant arrests did jump from 2016 to. However, the number of criminal arrests stayed around constant. In some cases, the number even dropped. The infographic shows more information (click on the buttons for explanations)

In addition, even of those immigrants arrested who were criminals, the crimes were not mostly homicides; most of them were traffic violations. In fact, 90% of the crimes these aliens were arrested for were nonviolent.


Clearly, there has been a huge surge of immigrant arrests and deportations recently. The agency behind it? The ICE,  also known as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They are in charge of all things dealing with entering or leaving this country, as stated in their mission statement: 

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“ICE’s primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration.””

— ICE Mission Statement

Naisha Roy
Immigration control in the United States used to be headed by the Department of Labor. Later, it shifted to the Department of Justice. Eventually, after 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security (Which ICE is a branch of) took control of immigrants. It went from an agency related to getting jobs, to an agency related to treating everyone equally, to an agency primarily occupied with terrorism. Instead of being connected to coming here to work, the government inextricably linked immigrants to terrorism. Images used with permission from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons. Edited by Naisha Roy.

ICE is made up of 3 major branches:

  • Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  • Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)
  • Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA)

The ERO is the agency that deals with deportations and immigration removal. Recently, their methods have been so violent that they have been causing a split in their own agency. According to a Washington Post article, 19 special agents in Home Security Investigations sent a disturbing letter to the Homeland Security Secretary asking to be their own agency, “because anger at ERO immigration practices is harming the entire agency’s reputation and undermining other law enforcement agencies’ willingness to cooperate.”

According to Vox, almost 3000 children have been separated from their families crossing the border from October 2017 to May 2018; at an average of 45 children a day. Agents often lied to parents about the length of their separation, saying that the kids were being taken for questioning, only to never return. The parents were then thrown in jail. Carlos Bolanos, a man living in Oregon, had two ICE agents enter his home without a warrant and arrest him. Dressed in plainclothes and refusing to give their identity, the agents arrested the man and refused to let him go until their actions were denounced by state representatives.

Even their detention centers knew no bounds. While immigrants waited in these centers, most of them about to hear the most horrific news of their lives, their conditions are inhumane. Within immigration detention centers, thousands of sexual abuse complaints have been filed; over half of them accuse ICE officers. Under the threat of deportation, many immigrants have been targeted by the accused officers in order to satisfy their cruel desires. Perhaps even more horrific is the fact that only 43 of these cases were even investigated. ICE agents have gone as far as impersonating police officers in order to enter citizens’ houses and deport them. At that point, the LAPD had to send a letter to the head of ICE asking for this practice to cease, as it was undermining citizen trust in the police department.

Trump Vs. Obama

Our president has kept his opinion on immigrants no secret to the public. One of Trump’s biggest campaign promises has been to deport as many criminal illegal immigrants as possible to keep our country safe. However, that was not exactly what his actions showed. In an executive order signed by himself, Trump gave ICE full permission to go after “all removable aliens,” not just the criminals.

CNN Evening News via Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj

In the graphs above, the deportation numbers for both Obama (top) and Trump (bottom) are shown (slide the arrow to compare the two). The blue bar is criminal deportations, and the red bar is total deportations. Most people do not know that Obama had a greater number of deportation numbers than Trump. However, he soon shifted his focus to just the criminals. Eventually, the number of deportations dropped; criminals making up the majority of them. Trump, on the other hand, has reversed course. Criminal arrests under both administrations were the same. What changed was the number of civilian immigrants arrested as shown in the CNN Evening News Clip. South Students seem to agree. Both Vasudha Mishra and Ian King, students at South Forsyth, agree that the focus shouldn’t be on civilians, but on criminals.

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I think Trump should focus more on border and criminal deportations instead of interior deportations that rip people out of their homes.”

— Vasudha Mishra

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Once they [the immigrants] have established roots, then they are part of the United States, a country built on immigrants.”

— Ian King











The actual threat

The government agency is tearing people from their homes under the pretense of protecting our nation from violent crimes. However, are illegal immigrants really as dangerous as they are made out to be? The answer: not really. A study by Michael Light, a criminologist, showed that an influx of immigrants actually had absolutely no correlation to the number of violent crimes or even minor crimes. According to Psychology Today, the notion that immigrants are more likely to commit dangerous crimes is misguided, and probably due to an illusory correlation. Because immigrants are a minority, we are more likely to notice their crimes more than regular criminals. Therefore, even though immigrants commit the same or even fewer crimes than citizens, their crimes are more picked up on and exaggerated. This video by The Washington Post debunks the myth that immigrants commit more crimes:

America, a country whose very foundation was immigrants, is now shunning the very people that give it its unique identity. The treatment of immigrants at the border is ghastly, and its time our citizens take a closer look at what the REAL crisis is.