ATLANTA -- We now know what was different about last week's immigration arrests nationwide.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement officers, under the Trump Administration, they are now authorized to use their discretion to make more arrests than they did under the Obama Administration.
And last week, they began an aggressive push to do that.
Officers arrested not only the specific, violent criminals who were on the feds' lists of immigration fugitives, but also others who happened to be with the fugitives, who might be suspects of relatively minor immigration offenses.
Atlanta Immigration Attorney Carolinia Antonini said Monday she supports immigration officers going after major offenders, like the cocaine distributor from Mexico who was arrested in metro Atlanta last week.
But she said officers went too far.
"We're getting reports that all kinds of people have been netted for this operation," she said, "people who may not have criminal convictions."
And ICE now confirms that's true.
As it is, immigration officers are still going after mostly the worst of the worst, because the U.S. court system is not big enough to handle many more than that - maxing out at about 400,000 deportations a year.
And that's the number of deportations reached in 2012 under President Obama, the peak year for deportations during his two terms in office, which saw, in all, more deportations than any other administration.
Now, as 2017 begins, last week's nationwide operation resulted in more than 680 arrests, 87 of them in Georgia.
But 680 is still far less than the numbers of people arrested in previous operations in recent years. There were 2,059 arrests during an operation in March, 2015, for example, and more than 3,100 arrests during an operation in April 2012.
President Trump is promising to increase the numbers of arrests and deportations as soon as he can.
"It's completely dependent on Congress," said Polly Price of Emory University, "to add more staff to ICE, to add more staff on the border, and also... to fully staff and add to the immigration courts."
ICE insists its officers will never conduct sweeps, but will continue only to target specific fugitives they are trying to find.
And, from now on, other people who are found with those fugitives will be more likely to be arrested, as well - as the officers see fit, and as the system can bear.