ICE Detains Fewer Immigrants with Serious Criminal Convictions Under Trump Administration
(06 Dec 2019) Despite the growth of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention, the number of detainees with serious criminal convictions has been falling steadily since 2017. ICE uses a three-tiered classification system, from Level 1 (most serious) to Level 3 (least serious), to classify immigrants with criminal convictions. While the number of detainees with a criminal record has been fairly consistent, TRAC found a significant shift. The number of individuals convicted of L1 offenses (i.e. serious felonies) fell from between 7,500 and 8,000 in 2017 to just above 6,000 in April of this year. Meanwhile, Level 3 offenders, those convicted of at most a misdemeanor, have climbed steadily from just over 6,000 to nearly 9,500 in 2019.

TRAC's analysis identified the top three most common convictions for categories L1, L2, and L3 over 500,000 detention records. The most common convictions under Level 1 were assault (15,557), burglary (6,788), and drug trafficking (5,741). Overall, L1 convictions declined 19 percent. The most common convictions under Level 2 over all data were larceny (7,463), illegal re-entry (4,193), and weapons offenses (3,000). The growth in Level 3 convictions is driven by traffic-related convictions and unlawful entry. The most common convictions under Level 3 over all data were driving under the influence or DUI (27,210), illegal entry (23,783), and traffic offenses (10,567).

ICE's detention data also shows that gang violence, terrorism, election fraud - convictions often associated with undocumented migrants - are remarkably rare. Out of 13 comprehensive data profiles of 500,000 detention records listing ICE detainees' most serious criminal conviction, two detainees (0.004%) had election-related convictions as their most serious conviction, 68 detainees (0.0123%) had been convicted of terrorism, and 82 detainees (0.0149%) had been convicted of gang activity. These data suggest an ongoing disconnect between belief and reality regarding immigration and crime.

Note: the data in this report do not include detainees with no criminal convictions, which now constitute a majority of all detainees (see previous report).

To read the full report, including a discussion of ICE's three seriousness levels, go to:

To explore more detailed data about ICE detainees for each detention facility by available month and year, citizenship, specific criminal conviction offense, how long detainees have been in ICE custody, and other factors go to:

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