Immigrants'-rights groups rally in support of Guatemalan immigrant Joel Colindres, 31, during his U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement check-in on Jan. 25 in Hartford, Conn. (John Moore/Getty Images)

IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS Enforcement, the federal agency whose deportation agents have been unshackled by the Trump administration, has intensified its efforts to such a degree that cruelty now seems no impediment to its enforcement decisions, and common sense appears to play a diminishing role.

Recent months have brought news of one senseless detention and deportation after another. From all appearances, the agency seems to have embraced the idea that it is just to sunder established families and separate immigrant parents from their U.S.-born children — even in cases involving garden-variety technical violations of immigration rules.

Yes, the Obama administration also deported some longtime residents who had committed no serious offenses, but its deportation efforts were focused on criminals. By contrast, detentions of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled in the first year of President Trump's administration — to 13,600 in 2017 from 5,498 in 2016. Evidently seized by a vainglorious notion of its mission, ICE too often discounts basic decency as a guiding tenet.

How else to explain the detention and imminent deportation of a 27-year-old Ohio man, arrested for driving without a license, who is the only means of financial support, and one of just two trained medical caregivers, for a 6-year-old paraplegic boy (who also happens to be a U.S. citizen)? How else to explain the deportation of a construction worker in Michigan, the father of 10- and 3-year-old U.S.-born boys, who provided critical help to police in Detroit in their investigation of a shooting?

How else to explain the airport arrest and deportation of a 22-year-old female college student from Spain, visiting the United States for a vacation at the invitation of a librarian at Oregon State University, on grounds that she would give Spanish lessons to the librarian's young son for a few weeks — work for which she lacked the right visa? How else to explain the deportation of a 39-year-old landscaper living in the Detroit suburbs, a father and husband of U.S. citizens, who had lived in the United States since age 10 and whose record was so unblemished that it didn't even feature a traffic violation? How else to explain the Israeli undergraduate at the University of California at San Diego, a "dreamer" studying legally in the United States, who was detained upon trying to cross back into the United States minutes after his roommate made a wrong turn on the highway, unintentionally driving into Mexico?

In its boilerplate communiques, the agency defends its actions by insisting that it prioritizes bona fide threats to national security and public safety but exempts no category of "removable alien" from enforcement. Which raises a question: Have discretion and humanity been dropped from the attributes that Americans can expect of their law enforcement agencies?