"We take them out of the country by the thousands."
– President Trump speaks Tuesday night at a rally in Nashville [1
Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not stop deportations by band, a spokesperson for the agency said. But just because of the number of arrests, Mr. Trump's estimate of "thousands" is impossible.
In the 2017 financial year – which started in October 2016 and ended in September 2017 – 796 members of MS-13, a transnational gang that has connections to El Salvador, were arrested and arrested 405 in the first quarter of the year 2018, Data ICE provided to the New York Times.
There are about 1,200 MS-13 members in all, and it is likely that not all of them have been removed. The time between arrest and deportation can be very different, and the backlog has stopped the process. In 2017, the average waiting time for a hearing at which a judge ordered deportation was 685 days, according to data from TRAC, a research institute at Syracuse University.
The number of MS-13 members arrested in the 2017 fiscal year was higher than in the previous eight years, but ICE arrested more than 1,100 in 2008 and nearly 1,300 in 2007. These figures are in contradiction to Trump's claims that "records" have been set.
The agency deleted a total of 5,936 gang members in the 2017 financial year and 1,082 in the financial year 2018 to March. It is unclear how many belong to MS-13.
During the rally, Mr. Trump also repeated many allegations that the Times and others had previously exposed: Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, supported MS-13 ( she never said so), these illegal border crossings had dropped 40 percent (rising last), and the tax cuts he enacted last year were the largest in history (ranked 12th). He also falsely described other countries as "not sending their best" through the Diversity Visa Program (claimants come of their own accord), claiming that construction had started (did not have) on its border wall, and said the suspect was in Manhattan's truck raid in October had sponsored two dozen family members through "chain migration" (which is not plausible).
Sources: Data from Immigration and Customs Authorities, TRAC