Border Patrol agents took two Guatemalan women and six children into custody after a traffic stop in Geneseo, New York, on March 23.
To mark President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, the Department of Homeland Security posted a multimedia update on its website featuring video of faceless federal agents placing handcuffs on a series of suspects. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers had detained some 41,000 undocumented immigrants in that period—a 38 percent year-on-year increase—which, according to the site, reflects “President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws.” The update listed the names of now-detained immigrants who had been wanted for murder, following similar announcements from ICE highlighting detentions of rapists and kidnappers.
But fewer than 9 percent of the detainees whom ICE calls “criminal aliens” have been connected to crimes of violence. When ICE detained 84 foreign nationals in a sweep of the Pacific Northwest, for example, their press release led with the arrest of a previously deported Mexican man charged with the rape of a child. The agency did not mention 21-year-old Emmanuel Ayala Frutos, who had come to the United States when he was 6 and was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status in 2013. In February, he entered a plea in a county court for possession of a butterfly knife. The judge in the case said Ayala Frutos posed no danger to the community; nevertheless, ICE agents picked him up at his Portland, Oregon, home and detained him for 19 days.
There’s a gulf between Ayala Frutos’ story and the story ICE tells. To close that gap, the Columbia Journalism School’s Global Migration Project has been working to build a database of Trump-era immigration enforcement, scouring public sources from news reports to federal court filings. The team then selected a single event for every day in a 60-day period and distilled each into a short scene. The 60 days begin on Feb. 20, when DHS issued a pair of memos outlining how it would enforce Trump’s hardline stance on immigration: by broadening the definition of “priorities for removal,” hiring thousands more agents, deputizing local police to aid in arrests, loosening criteria for deportation, and more.