By ELLIOT SPAGAT
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The federal government, in the most complete
statistical snapshot of immigration enforcement under President Donald
Trump, says Border Patrol arrests plunged to a 45-year low while arrests
by deportation officers soared.
The Border Patrol made 310,531
arrests during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a decline of 25
percent from 415,816 a year earlier and the lowest level since 1971.
Despite the significant decline, arrests increased every month since May
— largely families and unaccompanied children.
Customs Enforcement, whose officers pick up people for deportation away
from the border, made 143,470 arrests, an increase of 25 percent from
114,434 a year earlier. After Trump took office, ICE arrests surged 40
percent from the same period a year earlier.
numbers released by the government Tuesday 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. 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
"We have clearly seen the successful results of the
president's commitment to supporting the frontline officers and agents
of (the Department of Homeland Security) as they enforce the law and
secure our borders," said Elaine Duke, acting secretary.
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. ICE often takes custody of people at the border before deporting
them; the sharp drop in Border Patrol arrests means fewer people to
ICE said "interior removals" — people deported after being
arrested away from the border — jumped 25 percent to 81,603 from 65,332
the previous year. They rose 37 percent since Trump's inauguration
compared to the same period a year earlier.
Reasons for the
precipitous drop in border arrests are unclear but Trump's election may
have deterred people from 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 has declined as the government's struggles to
fill vacancies continues under his presidency.
58 percent of Border Patrol arrests were people from countries other
than Mexico — up from 54 percent a year earlier — largely from Central
America. 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.
Vitiello, Customs and Border Protection's acting deputy commissioner,
said he was "very concerned" about increases in families and children
crossing in recent months. During the fiscal year, which included the
President Barack Obama administration's final months, border authorities
stopped people traveling as families 104,997 times on the Mexican
border and unaccompanied children 48,681 times.
CBP also said
inspectors at land crossings, airports and seaports denied entry 216,370
times during the fiscal year, a decline of 24 percent from 2016. Border
Patrol arrests occur outside of those official points of entry.
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. It said its employees were assaulted
847 times, compared to less than 600 each year going back to 2012.