News Worms
News Worms

Department of Homeland Security says immigration arrests are up

Department of Homeland Security says immigration arrests are up

Reasons for the precipitous drop in border arrests are unclear, but Trump's election may have deterred people from trying.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports its agents made 310,531 arrests in FY17, a decline of 24 percent from the year before.

"There's a new recognition by would-be immigrants that the not hanging up a welcome sign", said Michelle Mittelstadt, of the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute think tank.

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.

ICE said that deportations totaled 226,119, a decline of 6 percent from the previous year, but that number masks a seismic shift away from the border.

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.

But while the agency took into custody more immigrants with criminal records, the fastest-growing category of arrests under Trump has been those facing no criminal charges.

About 58 per cent of Border Patrol arrests were people from countries other than Mexico - up from 54 per cent from a year earlier - largely from Central America. They rose 37 percent since Mr. Trump's inauguration compared to the same period a year earlier. In February, then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly scrapped the previous administration's instructions to limit deportations to public safety threats, convicted criminals and recent border crossers, effectively making anyone in the country illegally vulnerable.

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.

Much of the period covers the time after Mr Trump's U.S. election victory in November 2016, following his campaign pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Lower numbers notwithstanding, Homeland Security officials insisted on Tuesday that a border wall remains necessary.

"Yeah, the traffic is down".

"We are also concerned about the significant uptick in the smuggling of opioids and other hard narcotics, including heroin and cocaine, which generally increase when illegal border crossings spike", Vitiello said. But, "to take the 1,000 arrests a day to say that we're finished, it's not stating what the facts are".

Clara Long, a senior researcher for the U.S. program at Human Rights Watch, said people arrested in the interior were more likely to have deep connections to the USA through family, friends and work.

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of MS saw it differently.

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.

Illegal border crossings are also down. That's much lower than the success rate DHS had cited publicly.


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