Border arrests fall, deportations soar

Border arrests fall, deportations soar

U.S. Border Patrol agents made just over 310,500 apprehensions during the 2017 fiscal year, which ended in September.

Despite the overall decline in border arrests, the numbers have increased every month since May - largely families and unaccompanied children.

But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose officers pick up people for deportation, made 143,470 arrests, an increase of 25 percent. Between Jan. 20 and September 30, the agency arrested almost 111,000 people, a 42 percent increase over the prior year.

The newly released data provides the most comprehensive look yet at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration. Under Trump's crackdown, federal officers were encouraged to arrest anyone they come across who is in the country illegally.

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.

At a news conference, Thomas Homan, acting director of ICE, dismissed complaints from immigration advocates about the rollback of Obama administration policies that had led to a sharp drop in interior arrests.

The U.S. government deported fewer illegal immigrants in 2017 than it did previous year, even as it arrested far more people suspected of being in the United States illegally, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics released on Tuesday.

Assaults on agents by undocumented immigrants have almost doubled, to a six-year high of 847 from 584 last year, while border arrests have declined 25 percent from last year's 415,816. They rose 37 per cent since Trump's inauguration compared to the same period a year earlier.

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

While those apprehension numbers are down, other numbers swelled.

But officials stressed that they still believe the border wall is necessary nonetheless.

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

"We're still arresting almost 1,000 people a day coming across the border", said Ronald Vitiello, the CBP acting deputy commissioner. During the fiscal year, which included the President Barack 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.

But ICE also took into account in a press release announcing the numbers that there was a 40 percent jump in removals since President Donald Trump took office on January 20 when compared to the previous fiscal year.

The overwhelming majority of border arrests - 303,916 - happened along the south-western border.

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