Immigration Enforcement Under Trump: Fewer People Caught at Border, More Arrested in U.S. Interior

After 10 months of ramped-up immigration enforcement under President Trump and a sharp surge of arrests across the country, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement promised Tuesday that the agency will become even more aggressive next year.

Thomas Homan, acting director of ICE, said he wants to dramatically increase targeting of companies that hire immigrants who entered the country illegally, as well as launch community raids that snare such people in so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with his agency.

Homan dismissed complaints from immigration advocates about the rollback of Obama administration policies that had led to a sharp drop in arrests inside the country. Immigrants who received final deportation orders can expect to become targets, he said, even if they’ve lived in the United States for years or have children who are U.S. citizens.

“Those days are over,” Homan told reporters about the administration’s enforcement record. “We’re going to execute those final [deportation] orders, because if we don’t, there’s no integrity in the system.”

Since Trump took office, after a campaign largely built around a promise to crack down on illegal immigration, the effect of the tougher approach is now clear in enforcement statistics.

The number of people arrested at the southwest border in fiscal year 2017, which ended Sept. 30, dropped by about 25% compared with the previous year to 310,531, the lowest since 1971. The reduction mostly tracks a trend in recent years of fewer migrants coming from Mexico.

The number of border arrests plummeted as soon as Trump took office. They have begun to rise again in recent months as more minors and families have resumed the trek from Central American countries.

The drop in apprehensions at the border shows “the effectiveness of the Trump presidency,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. But, she added, despite the decline in illegal crossings, “the need for the border wall and border security … still stands.”

By Joseph Tanfani for LOS ANGELES TIMES
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