May 17 (UPI) -- Since Donald Trump became president, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested 41,318 people known or suspected of being in the country illegally -- a 37.6 percent increase over the same period in 2016.
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations made the arrests between Jan. 22 and April 29 this year, the agency announced Wednesday. The total arrests last year over 100 days in January were 30,028.
"These statistics reflect President Trump's commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board," acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said. "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. However, when we encounter others who are in the country unlawfully, we will execute our sworn duty and enforce the law.
"Our communities will be much safer for it," he said.
Of the arrests, near 75 percent (30,473) in 2017 were convicted of crimes including homicide, assault, sexual abuse and drug-related charges. That's an 18.2 percent increase from last year during the same period.
The non-criminal arrests of at-large immigrants increased 52 percent.
On Jan. 25, five days after he took office, Trump signed an executive order that ended the "catch and release" policy that ICE agents followed for undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes.
"We are going to get the bad ones out -- the criminals, the drug deals and gangs," Trump said. "The day is over when they can stay in our country and wreak havoc."
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly has said ICE will no longer exempt any class of people if they are found to be in the country illegally. Non-criminal arrests over the same period, increased from about 4,200 in 2016 to more than 10,800 in 2017.
"All of those arrested will receive the due process afforded to them under the law," Homan said. "ICE will take action to remove individuals subject to a final order by a federal immigration judge. We are a nation of laws, and ignoring orders issued by federal judges undermines our constitutional government."
Last week, ICE announced the end of a six-week gang sweep with 1,378 arrests, including 1,095 confirmed gang members and associates.