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Newly released DHS enforcement data heightens concerns in US-Mexico region


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FRONTERA FACTS:  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has just released[1] it's 2017 immigration enforcement data which document the impact of the intensification of enforcement initiatives under Trump at the border and elsewhere.


Overall, record-breaking decreases in the number of immigrants apprehended in the border region (a 30% decline) have been more than matched in terms of intensity by sharp increases in the numbers of those detained and removed (40% and 37%, respectively) as a result of the expansion of interior enforcement.


Thus, while stepped-up practices of deterrence[3] at the border have reduced the overall number of those crossing, a startling number of migrants and their families who have longstanding histories of residence in, and contributions and ties to the U.S., have been detained and removed throughout the country. This includes communities located in and around the border region, who live in fear as the result of the overall intensification of ICE enforcement activities.[4] As ICE Director Homan put it during a press conference when the data was released:


“The numbers are very impressive considering the president has been in power only since January. There is no population off the table. If you’re in this country illegally we’re looking for you and going to apprehend you.”


Meanwhile, the overall decrease in apprehensions at the border can distract from large, “steady”[5] month to month increases in the flow of migrant families and children, especially from Central America: 104, 997 family-unit apprehensions and inadmissible cases, as well as another 48,681 unaccompanied children[6]. There is no indication that structural conditions related to an aggravated by U.S. trade and security policy in Central America and Mexico, and the ways in which they induce forced migration from the region, have diminished in their impact.


Hope Border Institute remains concerned about the trends reflected in the recently released annual data, which place many families and communities in greater jeopardy and uncertainty. ICE must respect the rights and dignity of all, carefully monitor and redress injustices that result from intensified enforcement, and make public specific enforcement data at the local level, including the El Paso sector.



For more information contact Camilo Perez-Bustillo, Advocacy, Research and Leadership Development Director.


[2] Ibid.

[3] We have documented key aspects of such practices of deterrence and their disproportionate impact on asylum seekers in Discretion to Deny and in an update to be released in January documenting the effects of the intensification of enforcement in the border region.

[4] As highlighted by Human Rights Watch’s report The Deported, released the same day as the new data from DHS:;


[6] Ibid.

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