Homeland Security: Arrests along Mexico border down in 2017

Frederick Owens
December 8, 2017

The increase in arrests is also placing a new burden on US federal immigration courts, which are struggling with a backlog of more than 600,000 cases.

"We're bankrolling criminal organizations, we're enticing more people into this country and it's a public safety threat", Homan said.

ICE administrative arrests are up around 20 percent in Colorado and Wyoming from FY 2016, and removals increased 145 percent from past year.

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.

Under Trump administration policy, undocumented immigrants are eligible for arrest and deportation unless they are protected under a program such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama administration policy that allows some individuals who entered the country as minors to live and work in the country without fear of deportation. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they have recorded the lowest level of illegal cross-border migration on record.

The executive orders President Trump signed in January emphasized interior enforcement, which is also reflected in the national numbers, according to DHS. U.S. Border Patrol officials detailed figures showing a five-year low in illegal border crossings.

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Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said on Tuesday that "overall removals are down because the border is under better control than it has been in 45 years".

During the government's 2017 fiscal year, which ended September 30, US border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.

Homan called on Congress to give his officers more resources to do their jobs and to "address misguided loopholes" that make their jobs harder. No longer would they only arrest unauthorized immigrants who had committed serious crimes or had entered the country recently.

Despite the significant decline, arrests increased every month since May, largely families and unaccompanied children. During the fiscal year, which included the Obama administration's final months, border authorities stopped people travelling as families 104,997 times on the Mexican border and unaccompanied children 48,681 times. He said the number of countries in danger of such a designation also declined - from 47 to 36.

Some immigrants in shelters in Mexican border cities say they are now afraid to cross because of tough talk coming from Washington and stepped-up arrests in the interior.

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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