By Yeganeh Torbati
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested more immigrants who were in the United States illegally in the fiscal year through Sept. 30, 2018, than in any year since 2014, the agency said on Friday.
The 158,851 people arrested in the 2018 fiscal year by ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations division, the branch that carries out immigration arrests and deportations, represented an 11 percent increase over 2017, according to agency data.
ICE arrests of immigrants with no criminal history but who are in the country illegally increased by nearly one-third compared to 2017, to reach 20,464. Such arrests made up 13 percent of all ICE immigration arrests last year, compared to 11 percent the previous year.
Other immigrants arrested by ICE last year were either convicted criminals or had "pending criminal charges" at the time of their arrest, according to ICE data - though the latter category can include people who have been arrested by police but are not yet or ever charged with an actual crime. The number of people with pending charges arrested by ICE was 48 percent higher in 2018 than in 2017, while arrests of those with criminal convictions dropped slightly.
Those with criminal convictions made up 66 percent of all those arrested last year, while those with "pending" charges made up 21 percent.
Under President Donald Trump, U.S. immigration enforcement officers have expanded the arrest, detention and deportation of people in the United States illegally, including those with little or no criminal history or with deep roots in their communities.
The most common criminal charges or convictions for those arrested by ICE last year, according to its data, were driving under the influence, "dangerous drugs," "traffic offenses," and "immigration," which includes crimes such as entering the country illegally, entering illegally more than once, falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, or "alien smuggling."
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)