Federal immigration officials say the number of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally reached near-historic lows during the government’s 2017 fiscal year – down 24 percent – much of it under the Trump administration.
Roughly 310,000 illegal aliens were arrested during that time, including the final three months under President Obama. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Thomas Homan says the biggest drop came once Trump took office.
“People can argue all they want about priorities and the policies of this administration, but what this president has done, 45-year-low in border crossings, that's not a coincidence, that is based on this president and his belief of letting the men and women of ICE and Border Patrol do their job,” Homan told reporters this week.
But U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello says one segment continues to plague border agents.
“We remain concerned about the steady increase and flow of unaccompanied children and family units from Central America,” he said. “This is trend is enabled by legal and policy loopholes which are exploited by transnational criminal organizations engaged in human smuggling and trafficking.”
Vitiello says that desparation has led to an increase of assaults against border agents, 847 during the fiscal year. That's why it's more important than ever to fund border security or move forward on a wall.
“We're still arresting nearly 1,000 people a day coming across the border, most of that on the southwest border,” he said. “So we want to have more capability, we want more agents, we need more technology and we want that barrier to have a safer and more secure environment.”