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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
WASHINGTON – Today the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 statistics. These statistics reflect the Department’s immigration enforcement efforts prioritizing convicted criminals and threats to public safety, border security and national security.
Overall, in FY 2016, the Department apprehended 530,250 individuals nationwide and conducted a total of 450,954 removals and returns. The U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) reported 415,816 apprehensions nationwide, compared to 337,117 in FY 2015; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 114, 434 individuals, compared to 125,211 in FY 2015. Although apprehensions by the USBP in FY 2016 increased from FY 2015, they remain a fraction of the number of apprehensions routinely observed from the 1980s through 2008. In addition, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) identified 274,821 inadmissible individuals at ports of entry, compared to 253,509 in FY 2015. ICE removed or returned 240,255 individuals in FY 2016, compared to 235,413 in FY 2015.
The Department continues to successfully implement the civil immigration enforcement priorities announced by Secretary Johnson in November 2014. In FY 2016, 98 percent of initial enforcement actions – a set of actions that includes USBP apprehensions, OFO determinations of inadmissibility, and ICE administrative arrests – involved individuals classified within one of the three enforcement priority categories. Ninety-one percent were among the top priority (Priority 1), which includes national security threats, individuals apprehended at the border while attempting to enter unlawfully, and the most serious categories of convicted criminals as well as gang members.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson made the following statement concerning the FY 2016 numbers:
The immigration statistics released in today’s report reflect the continued effort by this Administration to dedicate the Department of Homeland Security’s resources to smart enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws, with a particular focus on public safety and border security.
We continued to strengthen the federal government’s decades-long investment in border security. 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. In FY 2016, total apprehensions by the Border Patrol on the southwest border numbered 408,870. This represents a fraction of the number of apprehensions routinely observed from the 1980s through 2008.
In FY 2016, we continued to better focus our interior resources on removing individuals who may pose threats to public safety—specifically, convicted criminals and threats to national security. This prioritization is reflected in actual results. Overall, 98% of all initial immigration enforcement actions and over 99% of all removals and returns in FY 2016 aligned with the immigration enforcement priorities that I established in November 2014. Significantly, an increasing percentage of those deported from the interior were convicted of serious crimes – over 90% in 2016 as compared to 51% in 2009.
The information released today includes a new, consolidated Immigration Enforcement report by our Department’s Office of Immigration Statistics. It is part of our effort to improve the transparency of DHS’s immigration enforcement efforts by releasing the end of year statistics of CBP and ICE together rather than piecemeal. This marks the third year in a row we have done this. As my term comes to an end, I strongly encourage the next Administration to continue publishing this report and to continue to enhance the transparency of DHS’s immigration enforcement efforts.
Overall Immigration Enforcement Outcomes
At every point in the immigration enforcement process, the Department has successfully implemented the enforcement priorities established by Secretary Johnson in his November 20, 2014 memorandum, Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.
Immigration enforcement agents and officers initiated new enforcement actions against 805, 071 inadmissible or deportable aliens in FY 2016. These actions included 415,816 USBP apprehensions, 274,821 inadmissibility determinations by OFO, and 114,434 ICE arrests. Overall, 98 percent of these actions involved individuals who were classified within one of the Department’s enforcement priority categories. Ninety-one percent of initial enforcement actions involved individuals classified within the highest-level Priority 1 categories, which include national security threats, individuals apprehended at the border while attempting to enter unlawfully, and the most serious categories of convicted criminals as well as gang members.
Subsequent enforcement actions were similarly focused on the Department’s enforcement priorities. ICE placed 352,882 individuals in a civil detention facility in FY 2016, 98 percent of whom were classified within an enumerated priority category, and less than 0.3 percent who were classified as “other federal interest.” (Priority data was unavailable for 1.7 percent of aliens placed in detention.)
ICE and CBP repatriated a total of 450,954 individuals in FY 2016, which consisted of 344,354 removals and 106,600 returns. Overall, 94 percent of removals and returns were classified within a Priority 1 category, five percent were classified within a Priority 2 category (i.e., serious and repeat misdemeanants, individuals who unlawfully entered the United States on or after January 1, 2014, and significant abusers of the visa system or visa waiver program), and one percent were classified within a Priority 3 category (individuals issued a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014). Less than 0.1 percent of removals and returns involved individuals classified as other federal interests, and less than 0.3 percent had unknown priority classifications.
For a comprehensive discussion of DHS-wide enforcement actions in FY 2016 please click here.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Enforcement Efforts At and Between Ports of Entry
While the total number of apprehensions by the USBP nationwide between ports of entry increased in FY 2016 from FY 2015, USBP apprehensions remain lower than both FY 2014 and FY 2013. Meanwhile, the demographics of illegal migration on our southern border have changed significantly over the last 15 years – far fewer Mexicans and single adults are attempting to cross the border without authorization, but more families and unaccompanied children are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America. In 2014, Central Americans apprehended on the southern border outnumbered Mexicans for the first time. In 2016, Central Americans again outnumbered Mexicans in apprehensions on the southern border.
In FY 2016, the USBP apprehended a total of 59,757 unaccompanied children and 77,857 family units nationwide.
CBP continues to monitor the arrival of unaccompanied children and family units from Central America and is working closely to support federal interagency efforts to manage these flows and address the underlying factors causing this migration.
Enforcement actions at ports of entry continued to yield important border security achievements. At ports of entry in FY 2016, CBP officers arrested 8,129 individuals wanted for serious crimes. Officers also stopped 274,821 inadmissible individuals from entering the United States through ports of entry, an increase of 7.6 percent from FY 2015. Depending on the circumstances, these individuals were placed in removal proceedings, allowed to voluntarily return to their country of origin, or allowed to withdraw their applications for admission into the United States. Inadmissibility grounds included those related to an inability to satisfy documentary requirements, previous immigration violations, as well as criminal and national security-related reasons.
As part of these efforts, CBP also identified 14,293 high-risk travelers who would have been found inadmissible had they traveled to the United States, and who were instead prevented from boarding flights destined for the United States. For a comprehensive breakdown of CBP’s FY 2016 enforcement efforts, please click here.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Interior Border Enforcement Efforts
In FY 2016, ICE removed or returned 240,255 individuals. Of these, 174,923 removals were of individuals apprehended at or near the border or ports of entry. The remaining 65,332 were apprehended by ICE officers in the interior of the United States.
Of ICE’s FY 2016 removals, 99.3 percent, or 238,466, met one or more of ICE’s stated civil immigration enforcement priorities. Of the 101,586 aliens removed who had no criminal conviction, 95 percent, or 96,572, were apprehended at or near the border or ports of entry. ICE’s interior enforcement activities led to an increase in the percentage of interior removals that were of convicted criminals, growing from 82 percent in FY 2013 to 92 percent in FY 2016. These numbers clearly illustrate the agency’s continued commitment to focus on the removal of convicted criminals and others posing a threat to public safety in the interior of the United States.
The Department’s civil immigration enforcement priorities have impacted how ICE conducts removals, as the priorities have heightened ICE’s focus on the greatest threats to national security, public safety, and border security. Rather than expending limited resources on individuals who have been in this country for many years or those charged or convicted of traffic and other minor offenses, ICE instead focuses its resources on those who pose a threat to public safety and on recent unlawful entrants, consistent with the Secretary’s November 20, 2014 memorandum, Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.
FY 2016 was the first full year of implementation of these priorities, as they went into effect in mid-FY 2015. In FY 2016, 99.3 percent of total ICE removals and returns were of individuals that were a civil enforcement priority and 83.7 percent were of Priority 1 individuals.
Level of Cooperation from State and Local Law Enforcement Partners
A significant factor impacting removal operations has been the number of state and local law enforcement jurisdictions that have limited or declined cooperation with ICE, due to the enactment of numerous state statutes and local ordinances reducing and/or preventing cooperation with ICE, in addition to federal court decisions that created the perception of liability concerns for cooperating law enforcement agencies. Declined detainers result in convicted criminals being released back into U.S. communities with the potential to re-offend. Moreover, they draw resources away from other ICE efforts to protect public safety, by requiring ICE to expend additional resources to locate and arrest convicted criminals at-large rather than safely taking custody of such individuals in jails.
To address this problem, on November 20, 2014, Secretary Johnson announced the creation of the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). Implemented in July 2015, PEP is designed to be flexible, allowing ICE to tailor the program to fit the needs of each jurisdiction and achieve mutual law enforcement goals. PEP improves the process of transferring individuals who pose a threat to public safety from state and local custody by enabling ICE to take custody of priority individuals without damaging trust with local communities. Throughout 2015 and 2016, DHS and ICE conducted a nationwide effort to implement PEP and promote collaboration, reaching out to thousands of local law enforcement agencies and government officials. Because of these efforts, 21 of the top 25 jurisdictions with the largest number of previously declined detainers agreed to participate in PEP.
Increased CBP Apprehensions
ICE supports border security efforts by detaining and removing certain individuals arrested by CBP; historically, a significant number of ICE’s removals have been of individuals that CBP apprehended at the border. In FY 2016, the total number of USBP apprehensions was approximately 415,816, an increase of 23 percent from FY 2015. This in turn resulted in a 26 percent increase in FY 2016 ICE intakes resulting from CBP apprehensions, from 193,951 intakes from CBP to ICE in FY 2015 to 244,510 such intakes in FY 2016.
Changing Migrant Demographics
Changing migrant demographics also impacted ICE removal operations in FY 2016, as illegal entries by Mexicans continued to decrease while illegal entries by Central Americans continued to increase. More time, personnel resources, detention capacity, and funding are required to complete the removal process for individuals from non-contiguous countries, as compared to Mexican nationals apprehended at the border, because removals of non-Mexican nationals require ICE to secure travel documents from the host country and to arrange air transportation. Perhaps most significantly, many Central American nationals, including family units and unaccompanied minors, are asserting claims of credible or reasonable fear of persecution. Such cases require additional adjudication, and therefore, take significantly longer to process.
For a comprehensive breakdown of ICE’s FY 2016 removal numbers, please see the FY 2016 report here.
 Individuals under the age of 18 who were not with their biological parent or legal guardian at the time of the encounter.
 The term Family Unit represents the number of individuals (to include a child under 18 years old, parent, or legal guardian) apprehended with a family member by the U.S. Border Patrol.