Immigration arrests up in Minnesota, surrounding states

Arrests made by the St. Paul Regional Office of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement are up this year, with officials citing new policies from the Trump administration that no longer exempt classes of undocumented immigrants as the reason for the bump.

The office handles Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas.

Over the same time period as the spike in arrests, however, deportations are down--though ICE says that's because the number of illegal border crossings is also shrinking.

Five men who came to Minnesota seeking asylum from war-torn Somalia more than a decade ago are now caught up in the roundups. They have been sitting in custody for over a month while their cases wound their way through the immigration court system--until Tuesday, when a federal judge rejected one of the men's motions to stay in the country. The other cases are pending.

All five of the men currently under consideration for deportation were arrested at their quarterly check in with the agency, a part of their agreement to stay in the country legally despite their undocumented status. 

“Even as far away as Minnesota—[where] less people are trying to enter—we remain focused on criminal vs. non-criminal," ICE Spokesperson Shawn Neudauer said. "Although we will remove someone who has no criminal record other than just crossing the border illegally.”

Collectively, the five men have 17 children who are citizens and jobs here in the states--one is a cardiovascular technician at the Mayo Clinic and one is a long-term employee at John Deere in Fargo, N.D.

“They’ve been checking in, doing everything they are supposed to do with ICE over a period of years," the men's lawyer, Kim Hunter, said. "And until very recently they would have not been prioritized for deportation because they don’t have criminal records.”