Apprehensions at the U.S. border dropped significantly in the fiscal year 2017, while interior immigration arrests rose sharply, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Fiscal year 2017, which ended in September, was the lowest on record for illegal border crossings, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. CBP made about 304,000 apprehensions on the southwest border.
Despite the overall decline, officials touted the need for a border wall.
“We want to have more capability,” said Ronald Vitiello, CBP’s Acting Deputy Commissioner.
“We want more agents. We need more technology. And we want that barrier to have a safer and more secure environment.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested about 143,000 people nationwide during the fiscal year 2017. A roughly 30 percent increase from the year before.
About 74 percent of the total arrests were of convicted criminals, according to ICE.
“For those who say that ICE no longer prioritizes criminals, fact: We arrested more criminals this year than we did last year,” said Tom Homan, acting director of ICE.
ICE deported about 226,000 people nationwide during the same time period. A 6 percent decrease from last year.
Deportations were down because the border is under the best control in decades, Homan said.
In Arizona and part of Southern California, the number of unaccompanied children caught at the border dropped by almost a third in fiscal year 2017, according to CBP data. The number of families apprehended fell by 13 percent.
Deportations were fell by about 5 percent in the Phoenix area in fiscal year 2017, and the number of arrests increased by about 20 percent, according to ICE data.