Media Reporting on ICE Arrests is Simply Criminal

In its latest summary on enforcement activities, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that a majority of overall administrative arrests made in FY 2017, were of individuals who had a criminal conviction (73.7 percent) or pending criminal charges (15.5 percent).

But the good news from ICE contradicts the media’s narrative that agents are targeting “innocent” illegal immigrants and tearing families apart.

Even though a mere 10.8 percent of arrestees had no known criminal convictions or charges, news organizations printed stories designed to demonize enforcement agencies and discredit their actions.

A Washington Post headline frighteningly declared that “Trump takes ‘shackles’ off ICE, which is slapping them on immigrants who thought they were safe.” The article contends the “biggest jump in arrests has been of immigrants with no criminal convictions,” adding that ICE made 37,734 “noncriminal” arrests in FY 2017.

The Hill used that report to assert that “Noncriminal” immigrant arrests double in past year,” while a Vice headline targeted ICE for “rounding up” noncriminal aliens “while Congress tries to fix DACA.”

The Post story – and the refurbished Hill piece – is partly correct. Yes, there were 37,734 noncriminal arrests made. But what’s missing is that a total of 59 percent of those “had unresolved criminal charges at the time of their arrest,” and 23 percent were fugitives or multiple deportees, according to ICE data.

Other news outlets opted for simple mischaracterization and downplaying of the crimes.

Newsweek magazine insinuated the criminality of the aliens was insignificant in an article headlined: “Most charges in ICE criminal crackdown related to traffic offenses.”

The magazine reported accurately the number of arrests, but downplayed them by noting “more than a quarter of the undocumented immigrants’ previous charges were related to traffic offenses.”

In fact, 80,547 had prior arrests or convictions for driving under the influence, a crime which led to the deaths of 10,490 lives in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ask the families of the 29 people who die each day in alcohol-related crashes how minor the offense is.

The coverage by The New Yorker took the apocalyptic route stating the “raids” showed that “any immigrant who is undocumented is now at risk of being arrested and deported.” Ignoring the fact that it was breaking U.S. immigration laws that put them at risk, the magazine went on to assert “immigrants who have lived productive lives in the U.S. for decades are being rounded up.”

The utter lack of journalistic integrity is bad for the future of the industry, but their misrepresentation of what ICE is doing and threat posed by criminal aliens is bad for the nation.

About Author


Jennifer joined FAIR as Web Content Writer in 2017 and brings to the role extensive communications and media background. She began her career as a policy research analyst on multiple national and state political campaigns before entering journalism. In addition to spending over a decade writing for several broadcast and print news outlets, Jennifer directed communications strategy for a member of Congress and a military nonprofit.


  1. avatar

    Splitting families is just a ploy. They can’t abandon their children if they get deported. They must go with them even if they are “so called” citizens.

  2. avatar

    FIRST AND FORE MOST Where does these idiots of the media get off on trashing our government for doing what they are paid to do. Guess they learned from the past administration and sissy pres obomee.

    SECOND These illegals are illegal in the United States of America. Their problem not mine or any legal citizen of the United States. There are departments in govt to have helped them, so sorry charlie YOU AND ONLY YOU DID NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PROCESS SO I DO NOT FEEL SORRY FOR YOU. GET THE HELL OUT OF MY COUNTRY.

    THIRD Weather or not they are working, why is it my and all the other citizens of this country to support these illegals with our hard earned tax dollars that these sissy politicians piss away on them while the poorer citizens go without.

    Fourth IF I or other citizens break our laws we have to pay the penalty WHILE the sissy lying lawyers,judges, leftist liberal, snow flakes pat illegals on the back. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

    Thank you Mr President

  3. avatar

    Rush Limbaugh is now proposing another of the ever so popular stealth amnesties being proposed lately. He says he would accept every single person now here illegally be given citizenship with the proviso that they would not be able to vote for 25 years.

    The reasons why this is a bad idea are innumerable but a few stand out. First, every court in the land would rule, correctly, that you have to let citizens vote and even if the courts did not do that, the next Democratic Congress and President would wipe away that time line and give them the vote right away.

    Two, most don’t really care all that much about citizenship because, as citizens, they would immediately become eligible for all the government welfare programs, federal and state, that are available to other low income earners, which most of them are. In a time of soaring deficits this is a very bad idea.

    Third, this is exactly the WRONG message to be sending because it once again makes it clear that if you come here illegally or overstay a visa eventually you will be REWARDED with an amnesty. This is just another dishonest attempt, by hook or by crook, to flood the country with illegals. The one thing that you can trust about immigration “advocates” is that they CAN’T be trusted. One too many times of promising “one time” amnesties [1986] and secure border fences [2006] and then going back on their word.

    • avatar

      You are right. Reagan’s Amnesty resulted in more illegals than thought. It also resulted in more coming here since they knew they could get to stay.

      We have more legal immigrants than any time in our history including the turn of the last century. We take in too many too fast to adjust, pay and become citizens, etc. They don’t pay taxes of any worth so they are costing us too much.

      if you were illegal in another other country in the world and over stayed your Visa, etc. you would be arrested and depoted. No trial, etc.

      • avatar

        Correct Immigration advocates always offer apples and oranges comparisons between a hundred years ago and now. Those people WERE motivated and tough. They had to be. They sailed across oceans, leaving their families, often with little more than the clothes on their backs. And they had to support themselves by their own hard work because there were no welfare programs. Now it’s come here, have a few kids, and the taxpayers pick up the costs.

        The cost of making them citizens, which would make them eligible for the earned income tax credit, would be enormous. That is a tax CREDIT, not a deduction, meaning that they might not pay a dime in income tax but still get a direct check from the government of 5,000 or more. Plus we only reached a hundred million population in 1915. Now we are at 330 million and growing by 25 million a decade. How does that help the environment.

  4. avatar

    I want to take the time in thanking law enforcement =”ICE ” for doing their job! Thank you for your service! I thank God that we have new leadership in taking the criminal aliens off our streets. The media and any political officials who refuses to uphold the laws and has the nerve to criticize law enforcement agencies in doing their job. You should be a shame of yourself! Then again, you have no shame!

  5. avatar

    There is absolutely no need for any type of justification for an arrest of any person illegally in the US! God forbid should you be caught by the Mexican Federales if residing in Mexico illegally! The term ‘illegal’ says it all! In addition, if anybody is splitting the family of illegal parents, then it’s the illegal parents. If they took a chance of having children being fully aware that they themselves could be deported at any time if caught, why would I blame ICE for doing their job?? Where does it say in the law that having babies will automatically waive deportation?! Besides, who says that the children MUST stay here? They are perfectly free to leave with their parents, so why is ICE demonized here? Makes absolutely no sense!

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