Trump's first year: Border crossings down, deportations up

End of the year reports are beginning to trickle in from law enforcement across a number of fields and that includes immigration and Border Patrol. If the President is looking for any more good news to share over the Christmas break, one area he could point to is the effectiveness demonstrated in making progress on curbing illegal immigration and removing illegal aliens from the country. The Associated Press reports that illegal border crossings (as measured by the number of people apprehended) are down significantly since Trump took office, while detainment and deportation of illegal aliens in other parts of the country have risen sharply.

Border Patrol arrests plunged to a 45-year low, but detentions by deportation officers away from the U.S.-Mexico border soared during President Donald Trump’s first months in office, as his efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration system took effect.

In all, the Border Patrol made 310,531 arrests during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a decline of 25 percent from a year earlier and the lowest level since 1971. But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose officers pick up people for deportation, made 143,470 arrests, an increase of 25 percent. After Trump took office, ICE arrests surged 40 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Digging further into the numbers, it turns out that the total number of deportations nationwide hasn’t actually increased. In fact, it’s fallen six percent. One might be tempted to believe that’s because Barack Obama was quite the deporter himself, much to the chagrin of his supporters. But these totals actually reflect a very big drop in the deportation of aliens arrested right near the border, with a corresponding jump in deportations from around the rest of the country. In short, not having so many people to deal with as they come over the border, ICE has been freed up to go after those who have been in the country longer and migrated to other areas.

Overall, ICE said deportations totaled 226,119, a decline of 6 percent from the previous year, but that number masks a major 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 remove.

ICE said “interior removals” — people deported after being arrested away from the border — jumped 25 percent to 81,603. And they were up 37 percent after Trump’s inauguration compared to the same period a year earlier.

Since Trump rolled back Barack Obama’s instructions to only go after those with the worst criminal convictions, ICE has been able to launch sweeping initiatives in other parts of America, particularly in the sanctuary cities. In September we saw one such operation net almost 500 illegal aliens in a single week, no doubt feeding into the higher numbers seen in this report.

The Associated Press coverage chooses to refer to Trump’s plan ending the Obama administration’s instructions to limit deportations to public safety threats, convicted criminals and recent border crossers as, “making anyone in the country illegally vulnerable.” I suppose that’s true, assuming you consider anyone who robs a liquor store “vulnerable” after the police are on their trail.

The final argument being pitched by opponents of these programs is that the lower number of border crossings means we don’t need to bother spending the money to put up the wall, right? That would be incorrect. This is likely a reaction to Trump’s election and word getting around that enforcement is being taken more seriously. But as soon as there’s another Democrat in the Oval Office the coyotes will be back in business. Securing the border before that happens means that future generations of Border Patrol and ICE agents will have an easier task to tackle.

In any event, I see too many people on social media these days talking about how, “everything’s horrible.” There. Now you have some good news to cheer you up.