New data show border Patrol arrests plummet

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USA immigration officials on Tuesday said arrests at the border have fallen in Donald Trump's first eight months in office while rates of people arrested away from the border soared.

Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said on Tuesday that "overall removals are down because the border is under better control than it has been in 45 years".

The drop brings arrests along the US-Mexico border to the lowest level since 1971, according to immigration officials.

In February, former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who now serves as Trump's chief of staff, scrapped the Obama administration's instructions to limit deportations to public safety threats, convicted criminals and recent border crossers, effectively making anyone in the country illegally vulnerable. Between January 20 and September 30, the agency arrested almost 111,000 people, a 42 per cent increase over the prior year. Despite the significant decline, border arrests increased every month since May - largely families and unaccompanied children.

That's nearly a 24 percent drop from previous year.

Overall, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, deportations over the last year dropped about 6 percent from the previous year - a number tied to the sharp decline in border crossings as well as a backlog in the immigration courts that process deportations.

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CBP Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello said that the agency was now studying prototypes for the wall Trump has ordered for the almost 2,000-mile (3,200 kilometer) border with Mexico.

Between January 20 and September 30, Homan said, 8 per cent of the around 111,000 people arrested by ICE were "collateral arrests", or people who were not the original focus of the agency. Trump has yet to get funding for the first instalment of his proposed border wall with Mexico and the number of Border Patrol agents has declined as the government's struggles to fill vacancies continues under his presidency.

He said most of those individuals were arrested in so-called "sanctuary cities", or jurisdictions that do not use local funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws or that deny U.S. immigration officials access to local jails.

South of the Arizona border in the Mexican town of Nogales, numerous deportees who were eating breakfast Monday at a dining room run by a nonprofit group had been picked up in the USA far from the border.

Border Patrol says it's still concerned with the increase of families and unaccompanied children trying to come into the country from Central America, as well as an "uptick in the smuggling of opioids and other hard narcotics".

During the 2015 fiscal year, ICE arrested 2,351 people in Colorado and Wyoming and removed 1,156 people. They rose 37 per cent since Trump's inauguration compared to the same period a year earlier. Border Patrol arrests occur outside of those official points of entry.

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