Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

U.S. arrests of illegal immigrants soar in Trump's first year

U.S. arrests of illegal immigrants soar in Trump's first year

President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown has produced a spike in detentions by deportation officers across the country during his first months in office.

Thomas Homan, deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, spoke Tuesday in Washington as the federal government announced that Border Patrol arrests plunged to a 45-year-low in the last fiscal year while arrests by deportation officers soared.

The number of arrests made at the USA border has dropped to a 46-year low, according to figures released by the Trump administration.

In all, the Border Patrol made 310,531 arrests in fiscal 2016, down 25 percent from a year earlier and the lowest level since 1971.

Data from ICE, though, suggested that processes to deport arrested illegal immigrants have become even more backed up than before, despite Trump's orders to increase the number of courts and judges handling such cases. Between January 20 and September 30, the agency arrested almost 111,000 people, a 42 per cent increase over the prior year.

Despite the overall decline in border arrests, the numbers have increased every month since May and many of those apprehended have been families and unaccompanied children.

ICE said that in Colorado and Wyoming, 2,746 people were arrested and 2,535 were removed from the the 2017 fiscal year, which ran from October 1 of last year through September 30 of this year.

He said most of those individuals were arrested in so-called "sanctuary cities", or jurisdictions that do not use local funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws or that deny United States immigration officials access to local jails.

But while arrests of people living illegally in the U.S. were up, deportations dipped by 6% from the previous year to a total of 226,119.

Customs and Border Protection, the other key agency, which patrols the border, said it had apprehended 310,531 people trying to sneak in, almost all along the southern border.

Even as border crossings decline, however, Trump continues to push for his promised wall along the border - a wall that critics say is unnecessary and a waste of cash. That was down 23.7 per cent from the previous year.

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

Arrests of people trying to cross illegally into the US from Mexico plunged to the lowest level since 1971, as fewer people attempted the trek, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.

Customs and Border Protection authorities also uncovered several hundred pounds of the drug in other operations in the most recent 12-month period. 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. Border Patrol arrests occur outside of those official points of entry.

CBP, which has faced allegations of excessive use of force, said its employees used firearms 17 times during the fiscal year, down from 27 the previous year and 58 in 2012.

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