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DHS Data Offers Look At How Arrest Pattern Have Changed Under Trump Administration

Dec 5, 2017
Originally published on December 5, 2017 9:12 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Fewer immigrants are trying to sneak across the southwest border into the U.S., while more undocumented immigrants are being picked up within the U.S. That's the takeaway from statistics released today by the Department of Homeland Security. NPR's John Burnett reports it's the most conclusive look yet at changing immigration arrest patterns under the Trump administration.

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Tom Homan, the tough-talking head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, struck a triumphal tone today.

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THOMAS HOMAN: The border is under better control than it has been 45 years. That's a good story.

BURNETT: The number of people caught by the Border Patrol trying to cross the international divide has declined 25 percent this fiscal year, compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, arrests by ICE agents spiked 25 percent nationwide in cities like Dallas and Atlanta.

Immigrant communities are already keenly aware of these trends. Would-be immigrants, mainly from Central America and Mexico, say they're not entering illegally because they fear Trump's crackdown. And unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. say they live in constant dread of deportation. Newly released data show all kinds of arrests are up. Immigration officers are detaining more gang members, but they're also apprehending more immigrants with no criminal convictions.

Immigrant advocates have criticized the Trump administration for rounding up people who simply work here and don't cause problems. Homan, the acting head of ICE, stressed that the vast majority of immigrants who were apprehended had violated the law. The most common crime committed by unauthorized immigrants is driving under the influence. Homan said even if they hadn't been convicted of a crime, they had run afoul of civil immigration laws.

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HOMAN: We conduct targeted enforcement operations. Every person we arrest - we know exactly who we're going to arrest.

BURNETT: At the press conference in Washington, Border Patrol Chief Ron Vitello was asked why his agency needs a massive, expensive border wall if illegal crossings are under better control. He answered, that's only part of the enforcement strategy, along with additional agents and upgraded technology. John Burnett, NPR News.

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