Trump Immigration Law Enforcement Overview for 2017

The most important statistics for understanding illegal immigration are how many are being deported, how many are already here and how many are coming into the country. This post lays out the numbers in a graphical and easy-to-understand format that can be read and understood in a couple of minutes. New data for 2018 will be posted when in becomes available in the next few weeks.


This graph shows ICE interior removals for fiscal years 2008-2017, from Bush’s final year and all of the Obama years though Trump’s first year in office. Interior removals are those removals due to arrests in the interior by ICE agents.

Interior removals dropped by 60-70% as Obama implemented the Secure Communities policy of focussing mainly on the deportation of criminals. This policy of prioritizing the removal of the more serious criminals started in 2010 and was completed in 2013. The huge drop in deportations was because it takes much more money and effort to deport criminals than it does to round up all illegal aliens that can be more easily found in the streets, workplaces and schools and deport all of them as the law requires as was done before Obama, not just the more serious criminals Congress, by design, only provides enough money to deport criminals and a couple other very narrow classes of illegal aliens.

The numbers for the graph come from these ICE pages.

FY 2015 ICE Immigration Removals

Fiscal Year 2017 ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Report

Trump continued the Secure Communities policy via his executive order issued on January 25, 2017, just days after taking office.

Trump Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States

“Secure Communities” is another government euphemism. By design, it makes the majority of illegal aliens secure from the threat of internment and deportation as would be required by the law. It is a bipartisan project. Bush conceived and tested the concept, Obama implemented it fully and Trump continues it. It makes American workers and taxpayers less secure.

This wiki provides references for further information about Secure Communities.

Secure Communities – Wikipedia

Trump’s new executive order continuing Secure Communities policy, ensured that deportations of illegal aliens would remain near the extremely low levels of Obama’s final years in office. The number of interior deportations in Trump’s first (partial) year were near historic lows of recent decades set by Obama.

The government estimate of the number of illegal aliens in the country is 12 million. Many think it could be 20-30 million or even higher. In any case, if less than 100 thousand are being deported every year, this is almost nothing. Many more are coming in every year than that, including criminals. Almost certainly, even more serious criminals are entering the US illegally than are being deported every year. At this rate, extremely few illegal aliens who make it past the border area need fear being deported.


The Border Patrol also turns over a large number of persons to ICE for deportation. The two numbers should not be combined, as Obama did to mislead the public, because the apprehensions by the Border Patrol are generally persons who were caught in the process of crossing the border. The two numbers are counter-indicators.

The higher ICE interior removals are, the more illegals are being removed from the country. Higher border apprehensions, however, mean that more illegals are coming into the country, because it is believed that the Border Patrol only catches a fraction of those attempting to cross.

This graph shows Border Patrol Apprehension by fiscal year. The apprehensions in Trump’s first year went down slightly compared to the Obama years, due mainly to his tough rhetoric during the campaign. Since that time illegal border crossing reportedly has gone up to pre-Trump levels, if not higher.

Fewer illegals were crossing the border, just because Trump declared he was going to strictly enforce the law. In the beginning some were actually self-deporting, based solely on Trump’s campaign rhetoric. The data in the graph comes from this link.

US Border Patrol Total Apprehensions for Fiscal Years 1925-2017

The number of illegal border crossers has reportedly gone back up in the past year, though, since would be crossers and their supporters realized that the law is actually not being enforced as threatened during the campaign.

The number of border apprehensions has been in a steep, 20-25 year downtrend, mainly because the current border fence was started that many years ago. Currently, There are about 650 miles of fence on the border. It shows that continued improvements in the current, very imperfect, border barrier would most likely continue to cause those numbers to decline in a significant way.

See this historical video,

produced by the command of the San Diego Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol.


To be effective, enforcement of the immigration law should be comprehensive in the interior and at the border at the same time.

The major issue and centerpiece of Trump’s campaign was enforcement of the immigration law. In the first year that Trump was in office there was no significant change from the Obama years in the enforcement of the law against illegal immigration.

The “Secure Communities” policy that caused a dramatic drop in the number of deportations during the Obama years was continued by Trump with similar results of an extremely low deportation level during Trump’s first year, while illegal border crossing remained relatively high.

Coming into the country legally and overstaying the permitted time of stay is also a way of coming into the country. There has been no obvious progress in preventing this avenue of illegal residency, either.

“Zero Tolerance” was a great idea and is proven to work, but it was not properly prepared beforehand, not coordinated and implemented well and has been rolled back due to the public outcry. Hopefully, the Trump administration can make changes in the plan and re-implement it. It would go a long way towards making up for there not being a proper physical barrier at the border.

The numbers for 2018 are expected in the next few weeks. Trump’s policies have not changed, so no huge improvement in immigration enforcement is expected in the second year.

This post is not intended to discourage, insult or blame Trump supporters, at all, but just to present the simple truth, so that they can continue to MAGA and create pressure for positive change in policies for immigration law enforcement. The change has to ultimately be reflected in the numbers, not just in the rhetoric.

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