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

Ivan Schwartz
December 7, 2017

In all, the Border Patrol made 310,531 arrests during the fiscal year that ended September 30, a decline of 25 percent from a year earlier and the lowest level since 1971.

The 2017 numbers show an increase of 145 percent in the number of removals from the area when compared to the 2016 fiscal year, when 1,033 people were removed.

Pinto pushed back against Homan's narrative, saying that while fewer people may be dying during attempts to come to the USA illegally, people are instead dying in their home countries.

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.

Overall ICE deportations, known as removals, were down around 6 percent compared to past year, but ICE attributed that to the dramatically lower number of illegal border crossings.

"The president made it clear in his executive orders: There's no population off the table", Thomas Homan, ICE's acting director, told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.

He also said those types of painkillers are going to make heroin and prescription opioids "look like child's play".

She said that under the Trump administration, people in the immigrant community are disappearing silently and are being confronted by ICE in their most vulnerable places.

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

The sharp drop in border arrests may be used by Trump's critics to question the need to spend billions of dollars on a border wall and hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents. As president, he has signed a series of travel bans aimed at curtailing who can enter the country, pushed to overhaul the legal immigration system and tried to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to share information about illegal immigrants with federal authorities.

April 2017 was the month with the lowest border enforcement activity on record, according to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which oversees Border Patrol. But officials insisted the wall was still needed.

"We're still arresting almost 1,000 people a day coming across the border", said Ronald Vitiello, the CBP acting deputy commissioner.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who headed the president's opioid commission, said last week at a hearing with legislators in Baltimore that global drug trafficking problems regarding synthetic painkillers fentanyl and carfentanil need to be addressed before they become even worse in the U.S.

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of MS saw it differently. "But the fact remains that after unprecedented investments in border security over the last decade, the border has become harder to cross and fewer people are trying". Trump has yet to get funding for the first installment of his proposed border wall with Mexico and the number of Border Patrol agents declined to less than 19,500 as the government struggle to fill vacancies continued during his presidency.

The actual number of illegal borders crossings isn't known because many people slip in undetected. That's much lower than the success rate DHS had cited publicly.

"Under this president, who's now letting us do our job and taking the handcuffs off the men and women of the Border Patrol and ICE, arrests are up", Homan said on "America's Newsroom".

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