Feb. 7, 2017: More than 680 people were arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in February. (Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)

Deportations up nearly 31 percent amid Trump crackdown

Deportations are up by nearly 31 percent this year amid the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, the U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Between Feb. 1 and July 31, there were 57,069 deportations or court decisions requiring unauthorized immigrants to voluntarily leave the U.S., up from the same time period last year when the total was 43,595. 

Federal immigration judges are also reaching more final decisions in immigration cases. That number reached 73,127 this year, up nearly 15 percent from last year. 

The Justice Department attributed the increases to the Jan. 25 executive order President Donald Trump issued to get tough on illegal immigration. To comply with that order, the Justice Department dispatched more than 100 immigration judges to detention centers across the nation. The government has also hired 54 more such judges since Trump took office. 

“In addition to carrying out the president’s executive order,” the agency said in a prepared statement, “the Justice Department is also reviewing internal practices, procedures, and technology in order to identify ways in which it can further enhance immigration judges’ productivity without compromising due process.” 

Supporters of Trump’s crackdown say it is helping uphold the rule of law. Immigrant rights groups argue it is splitting up families and damaging relationships between immigrants and police. 

RELATED: ICE arrests in Georgia, Carolinas up 75 percent

IN-DEPTH: Amid Trump crackdown, fear sets in among Atlanta immigrants

Between Jan. 20 and April 29, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement made 4,246 apprehensions in its Atlanta area of operations, which includes Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. That represents a 75 percent increase from the same period last year, when President Barack Obama was in office and there were 2,429 arrests. Somali and Iraqi nationals are among those who have been arrested in Georgia as part of recent nationwide ICE operations.

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