The Corner

National Security & Defense

On Immigration, the Washington Post Plays with Statistics

President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13768, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” just five days after he took the oath of office. He instructed U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to prioritize the removal of illegal aliens with criminal records, but made clear that the executive branch intends to execute U.S. immigration laws “against all removable aliens.”

On Sunday, the Washington Post obtained statistics on the illegal immigrants arrested by ICE officers between January 20 and March 13. The paper hoped to use them to confirm whether the Trump administration truly “cracked down” on illegal immigration during his first few months in office.

ICE immigration arrests of noncriminals double under Trump,” the headline stated. And technically, this is true. The number of illegal immigrants without criminal records arrested was 5,441, which was double in comparison to the number of arrests from that same period last year. But it’s important to emphasize that the number of ICE arrests has increased significantly when comparing these time periods — from 16,104 to 21,363 — and that nearly 75 percent of the 21,363 arrests under the Trump administration involved illegal immigrants with criminal records. Meanwhile, the Obama administration hardly prioritized arresting illegal immigrants with criminal records; during that same period in 2016, only 60 percent of those arrested were criminals.

ICE officers are not overwhelmingly targeting illegal immigrants who have steered away from criminal court during their stay in the U.S. The “doubling” of ICE arrests involving these illegal immigrants isn’t exactly a difficult feat, either: The number of arrests involving illegal immigrants without criminal records under Obama’s watch was a mere 2,700.

The statistics obtained by the Post confirms that ICE officers are cracking down on illegal immigration in its entirety, all while prioritizing by a three-to-four ratio the removal of criminal aliens from our country. But that message didn’t fit the Post’s narrative, so the headline had to suggest otherwise.

Austin YackAustin Yack is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute and a University of California, Santa Barbara alumnus.

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