U.S. deportations down in 2017 but immigration arrests up

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Plummeting illegal immigration resulted in fewer arrests by Border Patrol and fewer deportations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in FY 2017, top Homeland Security officials said Tuesday.

SAN DIEGO (AP) - On immigration enforcement, the Trump administration is eager to show that it is getting the "bad dudes" out, as the president vowed to do.

Ten months after President Trump took office, the effect of his toughened immigration policies is showing up: The number of people caught at the southwest border has declined, while arrests of immigrants inside the country surged by 40%, statistics released Tuesday showed. Under Trump, authorities have detained more people they happened to encounter while looking for immigrants they targeted as well as more immigrants with pending criminal charges. What is apparent is that immigration arrests are up across the board and fewer people are trying to get into the country illegally.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement's St. Paul office arrested 4,175 people in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Iowa during the fiscal year that ended September 30. I've repeatedly said that is false. Between Jan. 20 and September 30, the agency arrested almost 111,000 people, a 42 percent increase over the prior year. For those who say ICE no longer prioritizes criminals, fact: "We arrested more criminals this year than we did last year". Every person we arrest we know exactly who we're going to arrest and where we're going to arrest them. Arrests of non-criminals rose at a much faster clip, almost doubling to 37,734 from 19,683.

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Shortly after taking office, Trump broadened the Obama administration's fairly narrow arrest and deportation priorities, under which immigration agents had largely focused on those with felonies or multiple misdemeanors as well as recent border crossers.

Between Jan. 20 and September 30, Homan said, 8 percent of the approximately 111,000 people arrested by ICE were "collateral arrests", or people who were not the original focus of the agency. Linus Chan at the University of Minnesota's Detainee Rights Clinic noted a shift to arresting and deporting more people without criminal convictions locally and nationally. And the group included many convicted of immigration offenses; immigration ranked as the third-highest conviction behind driving under the influence and offenses involving "dangerous drugs".

"The officers are empowered to do their sworn duty and enforce the law as it was written", Homan said.

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