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Immigration advocates once dubbed then-President Barack Obama the "deporter-in-chief." Will President Donald Trump take over that title?
Trump got to the White House promising "law and order" and directed immigration officials to deport anyone in the country illegally — no exceptions.
Data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that overall, fewer people were deported in fiscal year 2017 than in 2016 (fiscal year 2017 included nearly four months of the Obama administration). Overall removal numbers include individuals arrested by ICE in the interior of the country and individuals apprehended by immigration officials at the border and turned over to ICE for removal.
Despite the overall removals drop, more people who already lived in the United States were deported in fiscal year 2017 compared with 2016.
"The president made it clear in his executive orders: There’s no population off the table," ICE acting director Thomas Homan said on Dec. 5. "If you’re in this country illegally, we’re looking for you and we’re going to look to apprehend you."
Homan attributed the overall decline in deportations to a border that’s "under better control." There were fewer southwest border apprehensions in fiscal year 2017 than in 2016, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The Trump administration’s determination to deport people in the country illegally carried over in the number of administrative arrests for civil violation of immigration laws.
The number of administrative arrests went up 30 percent from fiscal years 2016 to 2017.
As we’ve reported, the Trump administration also seeks to end so-called "catch-and-release" -- the practice of releasing immigrants apprehended at or near the border, with the expectation that they will later show up on their own accord before a U.S. immigration judge. Trump plans to expand the number of detention facilities for immigrants waiting for deportation or a resolution of their case.
The overall number of initial book-ins into detention facilities declined in fiscal year 2017 compared with 2016. But book-ins based on ICE’s interior enforcement efforts went up about 29 percent in 2017 versus 2016.
Trump has touted "unprecedented" declines in illegal immigration during his time in office, often crediting his Jan. 25 executive order directing the construction of a border wall, the hiring of 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, among other policies.
The Trump administration said declining apprehensions are "possibly reflecting an increased deterrent effect from ICE’s stronger interior enforcement efforts."
Border Patrol agents recorded 310,531 apprehensions nationwide in fiscal year 2017, the lowest since the 302,517 apprehensions in 1971. CBP tallied 415,816 apprehensions in fiscal year 2016.
Of the 310,531 apprehensions in fiscal year 2017, a total of 303,916 were conducted at the southwest border with Mexico. The greater number of southwest border apprehensions were for people from Central America, particularly El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, CBP Border Security Report Fiscal Year 2017
U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, Fiscal Year 2017 ICE Enforcement
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, United States Border Patrol Nationwide Illegal Alien Apprehensions Fiscal Years 1925 - 2017
WhiteHouse.gov, Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, Jan. 25, 2017
PolitiFact, Donald Trump trumpets 40 percent decrease in illegal border crossings. Is he right?, March 14, 2017
PolitiFact, How do standards measure up at immigration detention centers? A special report, Sept. 6, 2017
Politico, NCLR head: Obama 'deporter-in-chief', March 4, 2014
The Washington Post, Border arrests fall, deportations soar in Trump’s first year, Dec. 5, 2017
Reuters, U.S. deportations down in 2017 but immigration arrests up, Dec. 5, 2017