It's left many wondering why the US government is arresting and deporting a number of individuals who have often lived in the country for decades, checked in regularly with immigration officials and posed no danger to their community. Many have family members who are American citizens, including school-aged children.

President Donald Trump famously said in a presidential debate that his focus is getting the "bad hombres" and the "bad, bad people" out first to secure the border, but one of his first actions after taking office was an executive order that effectively granted immigration agents the authority to arrest and detain any undocumented immigrant they wanted.

Where the Obama administration focused deportation efforts almost exclusively on criminals and national security threats, as well as immigrants who recently arrived illegally, the Trump administration has also targeted immigrants with what are called final orders of removal -- an order from a judge that a person can be deported and has no more appeals left.

In Trump's first year, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 109,000 criminals and 46,000 people without criminal records -- a 171% increase in the number of non-criminal individuals arrested over 2016.

The Trump administration regularly says its focus is criminals and safety threats, but has also repeatedly made clear that no one in the country illegally will be exempted from enforcement.

"We target criminal aliens, but we're not going to exempt an entire class of (non)citizens," Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton told reporters Wednesday.

"All of those in violation of immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States," ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez added in a statement.

Critics say including people with decades-old final orders of removal as priorities is more about boosting numbers by targeting easily catchable individuals than about public safety threats.

"A final order of removal is absolutely not indicative of a person's threat to public safety," said former Obama administration ICE chief and DHS counsel John Sandweg. "You cannot equate convicted criminals with final orders of removal."

Sandweg said that people with final orders, especially those who are checking in regularly with ICE, are easy to locate and can be immediately deported without much legal recourse. Identifying and locating criminals and gang members takes more investigative work.

There are more than 90,000 people on so-called orders of supervision who check in regularly with ICE officials, according to the agency. And there are more than 1 million who have removal proceedings pending or who have been ordered to leave the country but have not.

As a result of the change in ICE policy, headlines about heart-wrenching cases of deportation separating children from parents or caregivers have been a regular occurrence.

The story of Amer Adi, an Ohio businessman who lived in the US nearly 40 years, and has a wife and four daughters who are all American citizens, drew national media coverage last month. Through a complicated dispute about his first marriage, Adi lost his status and was ordered deported in 2009, but ICE never opted to remove him from the country. His congressman even introduced a bill to protect Adi, saying he was a "pillar" of the community, but last fall, ICE told Adi to prepare to be deported.

At a check-in on January 15, he was taken into custody and not allowed to see his family before being put on a plane back to his home country of Jordan on January 30.

ICE has combined "ICE fugitives" -- people who have been ordered to leave the country but haven't yet -- with convicted criminals who have pending criminal charges and reinstated final orders of removal, allowing the agency to say 92% of those arrested under Trump had criminal convictions or one of the other factors -- when the number with criminal records is closer to 70%.

With an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, ICE has typically had resources to arrest and deport only roughly 150,000-250,000 individuals per year -- requiring the agency to make choices about who to prioritize to proactively seek out for arrest.

ICE says its mission is carrying out the law and that it "must" deport these individuals.