Immigration arrests spiked, illegal border crossings dropped in 2017: DHS

Andrew Cummings
December 7, 2017

Border Patrol arrests plunged to a 45-year low, but detentions by deportation officers away from the U.S. -Mexico border soared during President Donald Trump's first months in office, as his efforts to overhaul the nation's immigration system took effect.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed approximately 226,000 people from the country in the 2017 fiscal year, which ended on September 30, down 6 percent from the previous year.

ICE deported almost 226,000 people from the United States in the 2017 fiscal year by the end of September, which is 6 percent less than the previous year.

The chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement pledged a fourfold increase next year in the number of workplace immigration enforcement actions.

Customs and Border Protection defines "assault" as "a physically manifested attempt or threat to inflict injury on CBP personnel, whether successful or not, which causes a reasonable apprehension of imminent bodily harm". 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.

Between Jan. 20 and September 30, Homan said, 8 percent of the approximately 111,000 people arrested by ICE were "collateral arrests", or people who were not the original focus of the agency.

CBP also said inspectors at land crossings, airports and seaports denied entry 216,370 times during the fiscal year, a decline of 24 percent from 2016.

The focus has been on criminal aliens, it said, though immigration rights groups have accused them of rounding up longtime residents with families and jobs on minor infractions and sending them for deportation, and of rounding up immigrants in places where they should be safe. And the increase is 37 percent after Trump's inauguration compared to the same period the year before. Meanwhile, arrests by agents with ICE in the interior of the country spiked from the year before to 143,470 immigrants - mostly Central Americans.

Immigration advocates have raised concerns that ICE's new policies have led to indiscriminate arrests and targeting of communities.

Homan used the announcement to rail against so-called sanctuary cities - municipalities that in some way decline to cooperate with ICE - saying they entice more illegal immigration.

Reasons for the precipitous drop in border arrests are unclear, but Trump's election may have deterred people from trying. "We're still arresting almost 1,000 people a day coming across the border", he said.

That apprehensions figure, which is seen as an indicator of how many people overall are getting into the United States illegally, fell from the previous year to the lowest level on record, the CBP said.

In past years, removals were the primary measurement of how well ICE was doing, but over the past year, the agency has provided more context on arrest numbers as well.

Border Patrol, which oversees the USA borders with Mexico and Canada, said it had arrested 310,531 people nationwide - a decrease of about 25% in total arrests.

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