What Effect Has The Trump Administration Had On Immigration So Far?

Thursday, 07 Dec, 2017

Tom Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said illegal border crossings are at a 45-year low because President Donald Trump has taken border security seriously.

ICE said "interior removals" - people deported after being arrested away from the border - jumped 25 per cent to 81,603 from 65,332 the previous year.

In fiscal year 2017, ICE arrested 143,470 people on immigration violations - the highest number of these type of arrests over the past three years.

According to the data, Border Patrol agents have been increasingly aggressive with undocumented immigrants. That was down 23.7 percent from the previous year.

Customs and Border Protection, the other key agency, which patrols the border, said it had apprehended 310,531 people trying to sneak in, almost all along the southern border.

In February, former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who now serves as Trump's chief of staff, scrapped the Obama administration's policy of limiting deportations to people who pose a public safety threat, convicted criminals and those who have crossed the border recently, effectively making anyone in the country illegally vulnerable to apprehension.

"We're just seeing a different level of resistance", Ronald Vitiello, Customs and Border Protection's acting deputy commissioner, told Newsweek during a press call Tuesday.

The new numbers, which include the last months of the Obama administration, provide new ammunition to Trump critics who question the need to spend billions of dollars on a border wall if crossings are already dropping.

Homan stressed that 92 percent of all ICE arrests this fiscal year were of those who had criminal convictions. Arrests were up 20 percent over the same period, from 2,284 in 2016. Those arrests have sparked fear and anger in immigrant communities, where many worry the government is now targeting them.

Almost eight percent of the people ICE arrested were unknown to the agency before their arrest - meaning they had no previous contact with the criminal or immigration justice system, but nonetheless came in contact with immigration officials.

Homan used the announcement to rail against so-called sanctuary cities - municipalities that in some way decline to cooperate with ICE - saying they entice more illegal immigration. "We're still arresting almost 1,000 people a day coming across the border", he said.

One reason for the decrease in deportations was that fewer people appeared to be trying to cross US borders illegally.

"People don't come to the United States to go on vacation", she said.

In past years, removals were the primary measurement of how well ICE was doing, but over the past year, the agency has provided more context on arrest numbers as well. And, most recently, the US president put the lives of some 300,000 people - who were protected under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) - in limbo.

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. "It's about removing that magnet".