More than 310,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended nationwide in 2017, out of which 98% of them were apprehended at the southern border, according to the new data that was released on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security – DHS that went on detailing America’s immigration control efforts over the past year.
The overwhelming majority of these immigrants were from Mexico or Central America, the report also showed: 162,891 were from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, while another 127,938 were from Mexico. Around 10% of the detained immigrants had previously been apprehended in FY2017.
The overall number of these detentions represents a 24-percent decline over 2016, providing even further evidence for a drop in attempted illegal immigration following the election of President Donald Trump. Indeed, 2017 marked the lowest level of illegal border crossing since CBP was set up in 2003.
However, the number of these detentions also highlights the urgency of implementing Trump’s immigration priorities, including the construction of a wall on the southern border, according to DHS.
“We have clearly seen the successful results of the President’s commitment to supporting the frontline officers and agents of DHS as they enforce the law and secure our borders,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke. “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.”
In addition to border detentions by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency also reported 143,470 arrests and 226,119 removals. These arrests focus overwhelmingly on undocumented individuals whom ICE identified as engaging in some specific criminal behavior: having a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge, being an ICE fugitive, or being an illegal re-entrant.
In total, CBP officers and the border patrol agents arrested 20,131 criminal aliens, as well as an additional 10,908 individuals wanted by law enforcement.
Tom Homan, the acting director of ICE, insisted that a more aggressive policy response was needed, and said “We need to confront and address misguided policies and loopholes that only serve as a pull factor for illegal immigration. We must continue to target violent gangs like MS-13, and prevent them from rebuilding what we have begun to dismantle. Finally, we need to find a solution to the dangerous sanctuary city policies and the politicians who needlessly risk innocent lives to protect criminals who are illegally present in the United States.”
Transnational gangs and drug trafficking have both been a huge focus of U.S. immigration enforcement agencies. ICE Homeland Security Investigations – HSI arrested 796 members of the gang MS-13, 83% more than last year. That figure is included in the 4,818 criminal arrests of gang members; ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations also administratively arrested 5,225 gang members.