Border arrests fall, deportations soar in Trump's first year

Border arrests fall, deportations soar in Trump's first year

United States arrests of illegal immigrants soared in the first year of president Donald Trump's administration while border crossings have plummeted, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.

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

Administration officials say the decline in Border Patrol arrests to the lowest level since 1971 doesn't undercut justification for Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico.

And they show that deportation officers are taking Trump's call for an immigration crackdown to heart, even without the funding increase that the president has sought from Congress for more hiring.

From Trump's inauguration in January to the end of September, there was a 40% increase in arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice).

ICE attributed the decrease to the decline in border apprehensions.

The US government deported fewer illegal immigrants in 2017 than it did a year ago, 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.

Homan said those cities make it harder for ICE to arrest hardened criminals.

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.

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

President Donald Trump has pledged to target illegal immigration, and build a wall on the southern border. "We arrested more criminals this year than last year", Homan said.

South of the Arizona border in the Mexican town of Nogales, numerous deportees who were eating breakfast Monday at a dining room run by a nonprofit group had been picked up in the US far from the border.

Customs and Border Protection reported Tuesday that authorities have seen a dramatic increase in fentanyl because of USA demand as well as their ability to detect it. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Matthew Bourke said in a statement that the country's active crackdown and cheapness of the drug have contributed to the change.

About 58 per cent of Border Patrol arrests were people from countries other than Mexico - up from 54 per cent a year earlier - largely from Central America. "That's a good thing", said Ronald Vitiello, the acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. 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. That was down 23.7 per cent from the previous year. Border Patrol arrests occur outside of those official points of entry.

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