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U.S. officials say Trump has cast wider net for deportations

08 December 2017
U.S. officials say Trump has cast wider net for deportations

But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose officers pick up people for deportation, made 143,470 arrests, an increase of 25 per cent.

From the beginning of the Trump Administration in January through the rest of the fiscal year, which ended on September 30, ICE says Enforcement and Removal Operations arrests increased 40 percent.

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. While people sneaking into the country illegally accounted for the bulk of the interceptions in fiscal 2017, about a quarter showed up at legal ports of entry and were deemed inadmissible by officials.

"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", acting DHS chief Elaine Duke said in a statement.

Overall, ICE said deportations totalled 226,119, a decline of 6 per cent from the previous year, but that number masks a major shift away from the border. The numbers showed an alarming increase in seizures of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl in recent years, from 2 pounds in 2013 to 1,485 pounds last year.

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.

ICE said the number of "criminal aliens" it deported increased to 67,859 during the 2017 fiscal year, a 12.5 percent increase over the previous year.

Homan spoke at a news conference to discuss end-of-the-year reports issued by the federal government's immigration agencies.

Last week, a San Francisco jury acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented Mexican, of murder in the 2015 killing of Kate Steinle.

The administration has said its immigration policies emphasize national security but there is no indication that a higher rate of unsafe criminals are being apprehended, detained or deported, compared to under Barack Obama. Unions representing workers from both agencies endorsed Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Health and Human Services Department said it's "enhancing border security, implementing a merit-based immigration system and closing loopholes that encourage illegal immigration".

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. 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.

The government's fiscal year began October 1, 2016, and included almost four months under former President Barack Obama. He said the number of countries in danger of such a designation also declined - from 47 to 36.