The number of immigrants arrested and deported in the New York City region has surged over the last fiscal year, despite city and state efforts to resist the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented New Yorkers.
According to figures released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Friday, 158,581 aliens were arrested nationally in the 2018 fiscal year ending in September, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year.
By comparison, arrests in the New York region went up by 35 percent, for a total of 3,476.
About 64 of those detained by ICE had criminal records, consistent with national trends. Most of those who were arrested were charged with driving under the influence or drug crimes.
Deportations also jumped in New York by 29 percent in fiscal year 2018—again, more than the national average of 13 percent.
In the Newark, New Jersey region, arrests increased by just under 7 percent and removals increased by less than 3 percent.
Nationally, ICE claimed that 5,914 of the deported, undocumented immigrants were classified as either known or suspected gang members or terrorists, which is a 9 percent increase over fiscal year 2017.
These local numbers might sound surprising given that New York City is a so-called "sanctuary city," where police and jails do not release immigrants to ICE unless they've been convicted of a serious crime and there's a warrant signed by a judge. The Trump administration has frequently criticized sanctuary cities for protecting dangerous immigrants, and ICE arrests in New York also went up more than the national average in New York during fiscal year 2017, President Trump’s first year in office.
However, Camille Mackler, director of immigration legal policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, said she suspects there’s a “desire by this administration to make an example of our region.”
Mackler said these new numbers show sanctuary cities are not "protective bubbles." Police may not cooperate, she said, "but that doesn't prevent the person from being arrested the second they walk into the street if ICE is waiting for them there."
Likewise, she said sanctuary policies also don't prevent ICE from going to somebody's home or arresting them when they go to a courthouse, adding that courthouse arrests in New York are especially high.
Immigration activists have been urging New York State's chief judge to ban ICE agents from courthouses, and nationwide there have been growing calls to make courthouses off-limits to ICE, but they are not considered sensitive locations like churches, schools and hospitals.
A New York judge ruled last month that the Trump administration cannot withhold federal funds from cities and states with sanctuary policies.
“Overbroad enforcement against immigrant New Yorkers does nothing to make us safer," Matt Dhaiti, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said in a statement. "New York City works with federal partners in the interest of public safety, but not to be an arm of immigration enforcement.”
An ICE spokeswoman in New York did not respond to WNYC’s request for comment.