(ESPAÑOL) San Diego saw more than a 20 percent increase in both apprehensions by Border Patrol and in deportations and returns by Immigration and Customs Enforcement between 2015 and 2016, according to data recently released by the Department of Homeland Security.
While San Diego’s increase in border patrol apprehensions is on par with the nationwide trend, deportations and returns by San Diego’s ICE office increased significantly more than national counts. Continuing shifts in migration patterns affected how many of those apprehended were actually deportable, according to an ICE report that was released with the data.
Returns are when someone turns around at a port of entry or otherwise voluntarily goes home.
Nationally, the number of deportations and returns increased by about two percent from fiscal 2015, and San Diego’s increased by 21 percent.
ICE credited increased cooperation from state and local law enforcement as well as the uptick in apprehensions for the increase in removals and returns in a report accompanying the DHS data. It said law enforcement had been cooperating more since a late-2014 program change in enforcement priorities and in the way ICE requests access to those being held in jail or prison. The rise in “sanctuary” cities drove the Obama administration to make that program change.
It also said that migration demographics have changed over the past 15 years with fewer Mexicans crossing the border and more families and unaccompanied children “fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.”
Many of those from Central America were applying for, and in some cases receiving, asylum, the report said. Even those who don’t receive asylum wait for years in the limbo of immigration court backlog.
While border apprehension counts were up this year in both the San Diego sector and nationally, the numbers are still lower than peaks in previous decades.
The fiscal 2016 total for Border Patrol apprehensions across the country — 415,816 — is less than the San Diego sector’s record high of more than 628,000 apprehensions in 1986.
“We continued to strengthen the federal government’s decades-long investment in border security,” Homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. “These investments have paid off. Apprehensions on the border in recent years – a strong indicator of total attempts to cross the border – are much lower than they used to be.”