Controversial Crackdown: Exclusive look at immigration arrests in South Florida

(WSVN) - President Donald Trump’s agenda includes tough, new enforcement of immigration laws, and that means some in South Florida are being deported. 7’s Brian Entin has an exclusive look at the “Controversial Crackdown.”

Krome Detention Center in far West Miami-Dade County. It’s 5 a.m., and undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are gearing up.

And soon, they’re on the road.

Michael Meade, Acting Field Office Director, ICE Miami: “This morning, we’re targeting a criminal alien in South Miami-Dade County.”

ICE officers pull over this man on his way to work. The feds say he was convicted for cocaine possession, aggravated battery and possession of a firearm.

We agreed not to show the suspect’s face.

His girlfriend shows up, emotional, realizing she may never see him again. This is the first step toward his deportation back to Nicaragua.

Michael Meade: “This is what my officers are doing every day, nationwide and here in Miami.”

Going after undocumented immigrants with criminal records was the priority toward the end of President Obama’s administration, but things changed when President Trump signed an executive order.

Michael Meade: “This has been some of the busiest times of my career.”

Now, immigration officers can arrest anyone they encounter living in the U.S. illegally.

Michael Meade: “We have one person that we’re looking for. Now, if while looking for that person in his residence, or his place of business, if we find other people that are in violation of immigration law, we are going to take action.”

Officers waited outside this apartment in Coral Springs, and after the sun came up, arrested this man from Guatemala before he left for work.

The feds say he entered the U.S. illegally after being deported once before.

Detainees are brought to intake centers like this one in Miramar. First they’re put into these holding cells, and then they’re brought over to these computers, where they’re fingerprinted, and those prints are put into a national database.

Maria Bilbao is with United We Dream, a group that fights for immigrant rights. She says there is fear in the South Florida immigrant community.

Maria Bilbao, United We Dream: “People are scared because, you know, a small mistake. For example, if you are driving with no driver’s license, it could be the potential break of your family.”

Nationwide, the number of undocumented immigrants arrested with no criminal records has gone up under President Trump. Almost 18,000 more arrests than during President Obama’s last year in office.

Despite the rumors, immigration officers stress they do not conduct random raids and still prioritize those who are a threat to public safety.

Michael Meade: “Many of the officers are immigrants themselves, or they’re first generation. Their parents were immigrants. My spouse is an immigrant. You know, what we do isn’t political. What we do is just enforcing the law just like any other law enforcement agency.”

But what they do also has many in South Florida angry and scared.

It’s an immigration debate that’s not ending anytime soon.

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