Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested an average of more than 400 illegal immigrants a day over President Donald Trump's first 100 days in office, a 38 percent spike over the same time frame last year.
The statistics represent a continuation of a . With new marching orders from the Trump administration, ICE is casting a wider net beyond the narrow parameters mandated during former President Barack Obama's second term.
"These statistics reflect President Trump's commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board."
"These statistics reflect President Trump's commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board," Acting Director Thomas Homan said in a prepared statement. "ICE agents and officers have been given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the arrest of convicted criminal aliens."
From Jan. 22 through April 29, ICE apprehended 41,318 people living in the United States without permission. That represents a 37.6 percent increased over the 30,028 illegal immigrants arrested between Jan. 24 and April 30 of last year.
Nearly 75 percent of those arrested during that period this year have been convicted of criminal offenses ranging from homicide to assault to drug charges to sexual abuse, according to ICE. Violent crimes such as homicide, rape, kidnapping and assault accounted for more than 2,700 of the convictions.
Although criminals make up a smaller share of ICE arrests than under Obama, the total number of detainees with criminal records increased from 25,786 to 30,473. Advocates of more aggressive enforcement praised the statistics as evidence of a return to normalcy that prevailed in immigration enforcement for decades before Obama's second term.
"It was about the level that was occurring in 2011, 2012," said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies.
Vaughan noted that the daily average over Trump's first 100 days projects to about 150,000 over a full year.
"If they sustain this, it's going to ... be back to the level before Obama's policies gutted enforcement," she said.
ICE arrests increased even as deportations declined by 12 percent, to 56,315. Vaughan said that is due to a steep decline in the number of people caught by Border Patrol agents and handed over to ICE for processing. The overall number of illegal border crossings has since Trump took office.
Vaughan said it is too soon for most of the people arrested in the interior of the country to have gone through the immigration system.
Critics of aggressive immigration enforcement suggested that the numbers indicate evidence of Trump's goal of mass deportations.
"If we don't call it out and stand up to it, America is moving in the direction of committing a mistake of historic proportions -- driving millions of immigrants who are deeply rooted in our country out of the country they now call home," America's Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry told USA Today.
But Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said mass deportations would produce far more than 41,000 arrests in a little more than three months. He said the increase over last year is due mostly to expanding the number of crimes ICE agents are focusing on and apprehending other illegal immigrants found during ICE raids.
Under the previous administration, ICE agents often ignored illegal immigration violations by people who did not meet enforcement priorities.
"While they are still prioritizing criminal aliens, they're not limiting themselves to just criminal aliens," Mehlman said.
Homan said 12,766 of the ICE arrests have occurred in communities, a 52 percent increase over the period last year. He said on a conference call that is due, in part, to the fact that more cities and counties have adopted "sanctuary" polices and are freeing illegal immigrants arrested on other charges rather than handing them over to ICE.
Mehlman said increasing deportations might induce illegal immigrants to leave voluntarily, just as increased border enforcement appears to have deterred people from Mexico and Central America from attempting to cross into the United States.
"You also change the mindset of people already here in the United States," he said. "We can't deport ourselves out of this problem entirely. That's just one component."