CHICAGO (WLS) -- In the first six months of the Trump administration there has been a spike in the number of immigrants arrested by federal agents in Chicago and ordered out of the country, the I-Team has learned.
Data from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) reveals about a 30% increase in Chicago arrests and deportations compared with the end of the Obama administration. The Justice Department this week revealed that federal immigration courts ordered 57,069 people to leave the United States in the first six months of the Trump administration, a jump of nearly 31 percent nationally compared with the same period last year.
In Chicago, figures obtained by the I-Team show that 4503 immigrants were arrested by ICE between January and the end of June. According to federal law enforcement data 2,725 were deported. Figures in the preceding months, in 2016, were significantly lower for both arrests of undocumented immigrants and what the agency called "removals."
Although the majority of those who have been deported were sent to Mexico and Central America, ICE officials tell the I-Team that some European immigrants are included in the numbers. There have been "22 aliens to Ireland and 85 aliens to Poland during fiscal year 2017" according to an ICE spokesman in Washington, DC.
Federal officials have attributed the overall increase in part to President Trump's Jan. 25 executive order dispatching more than 100 immigration judges to immigration jails across the country. 9 of every 10 cases heard in jails have led to federal orders to leave the country.
Administration officials maintain that criminal immigrants are the focus of ICE enforcement teams. Among the most recent criminal immigrants arrested by Chicago ICE agents was Jacinto Matom-Brito, 22, wanted for sexually assaulting two minors in 2012 in Nebaj, Guatemala. In late July Maton-Brito arrived in La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, Guatemala, via ICE Air, and was turned over to local authorities.
Although ICE officials say they don't conduct random immigration "raids" or run checkpoints, in February about 50 foreign nationals were arrested in the Chicago area as part of a national enforcement effort across the country.
There were big-city sweeps of what they call "targeted" immigrants, including those with criminal backgrounds, gang members or those who re-entered the U.S. after previously being deported.
In Chicago, stake-outs of suspected immigration criminals and violators nabbed 47 men and one woman. Teams of ICE agents spread out across Chicago and in 20 suburbs, including Arlington Heights, Aurora and Elgin, as well as Hammond, Ind.
ICE officials told the I-Team that all but three of the people they arrested in February had criminal backgrounds, including several citizens of Mexico and Iraq who had been convicted of sexual abuse of minors.
Other foreign nationals picked up in the Chicago area had convictions for prostitution, cocaine possession, burglary and criminal sexual assault.
About 30 percent of those arrested in the Midwest were not violent offenders, slightly more than figures for the rest of the nation.
Spike in Chicago immigration arrests, deportations
ABC7 I-TEAM INVESTIGATION