U.S. border arrests at lowest since 1971 - Trump administration

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U.S. President Donald Trump, who picked immigration as one of the key areas to focus on, is keeping his promise by cracking down heavily on immigration policies. "However, if you look at ICE deportations, people that are arrested in the interior and were removed, those numbers are up nearly 40 percent".

Arrests of people trying to cross illegally into the USA from Mexico plunged to the lowest level since 1971, as fewer people attempted the trek, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.

Homan said those cities make it harder for ICE to arrest hardened criminals. ICE often takes custody of people at the border before deporting them; the sharp drop in Border Patrol arrests means fewer people to remove.

Administration officials say the decline in Border Patrol arrests to the lowest level since 1971 doesn't undercut justification for Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico.

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The new numbers, which include the last months of the Obama administration, provide new ammunition to Trump critics who question the need to spend billions of dollars on a border wall if crossings are already dropping.

ICE attributed the decrease to the decline in border apprehensions.

"We have clearly seen the successful results of the president's commitment to supporting the front line officers and agents of (the Department of Homeland Security) as they enforce the law and secure our borders", acting secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement.

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.

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"We are seeing a lot of people now who have long established ties in the United States", said Joanna Foote Williams, the Kino Border Initiative's director of education and advocacy, as about 40 men and a few women ate eggs, refried beans and tortillas. Officials said they believe a wall is still necessary.

The Obama administration past year took steps to address this issue, which DHS described in July 2016 as a "humanitarian challenge" that primarily affected vulnerable people.

"CBP continues to be concerned about steady increase in the flow of unaccompanied children and family units from Central America, as transnational criminal organizations continue to exploit legal and policy loopholes to help illegal aliens gain entry and facilitate their release into the interior of the country", the release said. "That's a good thing", said Ronald Vitiello, the acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. That was down 23.7 per cent from the previous year.

During the 2015 fiscal year, ICE arrested 2,351 people in Colorado and Wyoming and removed 1,156 people. CBP said its employees were assaulted 847 times, up from 585 a year earlier and less than 600 each year going back to 2012.

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