Monday, 18 June, 2018

USA officials say Trump has cast wider net for deportations

A U.S. Border Patrol officer stands near prototypes of President Trump's proposed border wall in San Diego.   Frederic J. Brown    
  AFP  Getty Images A U.S. Border Patrol officer stands near prototypes of President Trump's proposed border wall in San Diego. Frederic J. Brown AFP Getty Images
Preston Stone | 07 December, 2017, 02:00

Ten months after President Trump took office, the effect of his toughened immigration policies is showing up: The number of people caught at the southwest border has declined, while arrests of immigrants inside the country surged by 40%, statistics released Tuesday showed.

"Overall removals are down because the border is under better control than it has been in 45 years", said Thomas Homan, the ICE deputy director, at a news conference.

ICE deported almost 226,000 people from the United States in the 2017 fiscal year by the end of September, which is 6 percent less than the previous year.

"We have an obligation to uphold the integrity of our immigration system, but we must do more to step up and close loopholes to protect the American worker, our economy, and our communities".

Meanwhile, immigration arrests in the interior of the country increased by 25 percent, the data show. Trump has yet to get funding for the first instalment 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.

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 still arresting almost 1,000 people a day coming across the border", said Ronald Vitiello, the CBP acting deputy commissioner.

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April 2017 was the month with the lowest border enforcement activity on record, according to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which oversees Border Patrol. Between Jan. 20 and September 30, the agency arrested almost 111,000 people, a 42 percent increase over the prior year.

The focus has been on criminal aliens, it said, though immigration rights groups have accused them of rounding up longtime residents with families and jobs on minor infractions and sending them for deportation, and of rounding up immigrants in places where they should be safe. That's nearly a 24 percent drop from previous year.

There is a backlog that is being cleared out, including people that have received a final order or removal from an immigration judge, according to ICE officials.

One reason for the decrease in deportations was that fewer people appeared to be trying to cross USA borders illegally. "We're still arresting almost 1,000 people a day coming across the border", he said.

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

Despite the decline in Border Patrol arrests, officials at Immigration and Customs (ICE) report a significant increase in arrests within the US. 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.

"We conduct target enforcement operations, we know exactly who we are going to arrest and where", he said.

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