Apprehensions of illegal immigrants at the U.S. border dropped 24 percent from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2017 and represent the lowest level since 1971, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday morning.
The Department of Homeland Security agency reported 310,531 apprehensions and 216,370 inadmissible people caught at various parts of the Mexico and Canada borders, as well as the ports of entry from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017.
"We have clearly seen the successful results of the President’s commitment to supporting the frontline officers and agents of DHS as they enforce the law and secure our borders," acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement. "We have an obligation to uphold the integrity of our immigration system, but we must do more to step up and close loopholes to protect the American worker, our economy, and our communities."
In fiscal 2016, a total of 415,816 illegal immigrants were apprehended nationwide. That figure has ticked up from around 300,000 in 1970 to between an average of 1 and 1.5 million people apprehended each year from the mid-1980s through 2006, according to Border Patrol data.
Approximately 98 percent of apprehensions took place on the U.S.-Mexico border. However, about 58 percent of apprehended people — 303,916 individuals — were from countries other than Mexico, up 4 percentage points from 2016.
A little over half of those — 162,891 people — were from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Another 127,938 individuals had Mexican citizenship.
CBP and Border Patrol encountered fewer previously deported people this year than last, down from 12 percent to 10 percent.
"The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security have worked diligently to carry out the president’s security-focused agenda. This is what enforcing the law as Congress adopted looks like. Despite the remarkable progress we’ve made this year, there is still work to be done and why the administration has asked Congress to legislatively address existing legal limitations and loopholes that prevent the full border security and interior enforcement the American people deserve," Tyler Houlton, acting DHS press secretary, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.
The first three months of President Trump's administration saw a sharp decline in apprehensions and hit the lowest-ever recorded rate for a month in April. CBP credited the significant decline to Trump's Jan. 25 executive order, which mandated all policies related to interior enforcement and border security be carried out to the full extent.
The numbers increased in late spring through summer, which historic data indicates is standard.