Arrests along Mexico border drop sharply under Trump, new statistics show

A U.S. Border Patrol officer stands near prototypes of President Trump's proposed border wall in San Diego.   Frederic J. Brown    
  AFP  Getty Images

Ten months after President Trump took office, the effect of his toughened immigration policies is showing up: The number of people caught at the southwest border has declined, while arrests of immigrants inside the country surged by 40%, statistics released Tuesday showed.

According to the agency, illegal border crossings are at a 45 year low, which is a group that typically makes up a major portion of ICE removals.

ICE removed approximately 226,000 people from the country in the 2017 fiscal year, which ended on September 30, down six percent from 2016.

Although Homeland Security officials touted the overall drop in arrests, they did note that, since May, arrest had ticked up, mainly because of families and unaccompanied children from Central America trying to escape violence and instability caused by fighting between drug cartels, a yearslong trend.

ICE officials say that 92 percent of those arrested had criminal convictions, were an immigration fugitive or illegally had re-entered the country. ICE acting chief Homan says arrests of gang members - including the violent MS-13 gang - has jumped 83 percent.

During the 2015 fiscal year, ICE arrested 2,351 people in Colorado and Wyoming and removed 1,156 people. "However, if you look at ICE deportations, people that are arrested in the interior and were removed, those numbers are up nearly 40 percent". They rose 37 percent since Mr. Trump's inauguration compared to the same period a year earlier.

The administration has said its immigration policies emphasize national security but there is no indication that a higher rate of risky criminals are being apprehended, detained or deported, compared to under Barack Obama. Mr. Trump referenced the killing throughout his campaign.

Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the enforcement numbers published Tuesday were a measure of the president's "security-focused agenda".

In March, former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testified to Congress that fewer than 17,000 people had been arrested along the southern border that month.

Clara Long, a senior researcher for the USA program at Human Rights Watch, said people arrested in the interior were more likely to have deep connections to the U.S. through family, friends and work. Starting around 2011, large numbers from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras began entering the country in South Texas, which replaced Arizona as the busiest corridor for illegal crossings.

The drop, which was reported by US Customs and Border Protection, brought the rate of undocumented arrivals to the lowest level since 2000. During the fiscal year, which included the Obama administration's final months, border authorities stopped people traveling as families 104,997 times on the Mexican border and unaccompanied children 48,681 times. CBP said its employees were assaulted 847 times, up from 585 a year earlier and less than 600 each year going back to 2012.

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