Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail that illegal immigration would drop under his administration. According to some new numbers, it looks like he’s delivering.
A press release from the Department of Homeland Security showed a dramatic reduction in the number of arrests and apprehensions at the southern border. In February, law enforcement agencies captured 18,754 individuals — down from more than 40,000 a year before. In March, that number was even lower at 12,193.
At the same time, arrests by immigration officials away from the border increased by around a third during the first three months of 2017. Federal agents arrested 21,362 people in January through March, compared to only 16,104 in 2016.
The number of arrests of illegal immigrants with no criminal records since entering the country more than doubled in the first three months of 2017 as well. A senior Immigration and Customs Enforcement official told NPR that his agency has been able to “open the aperture” on the kinds of immigrants it can arrest.
A leaked Department of Homeland Security report showed that the agency plans on expanding its immigration crackdown by speeding up the hiring of officers, identifying more illegal immigrant hotspots, and allocating money for border wall designs.
“What [the Trump administration is] trying to do are very splashy, draconian enforcement efforts that are really meant to tell people: nobody is safe, and nobody should come that’s not documented,” says Donald Kerwin, executive director of the Center for Migration Studies, a liberal immigration think tank.