The U.S. Department of Homeland Security apprehended over 500,000 individuals nationwide in 2016, a small increase from the previous year, according to a report it released Friday.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its end of Fiscal Year 2016 statistics, which reflect the U.S. immigration enforcement efforts that prioritize convicted criminals and threats to public safety, border security, and national security.
Though the number of apprehensions increased from the previous year, the report noted that they represent just a fraction of the number of apprehensions observed on average between 1980 and 2008.
“We continued to strengthen the federal government's decades-long investment in border security,” Secretary of Homeland Security 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."
Gang members detained
The report also indicated that the vast majority of those apprehended were “top priority” — meaning they were either apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the country, or were threats to national security, including gang members.
U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement and Customs and Border Protection repatriated 450,954 individuals in the 2016 fiscal year, 94 percent of whom fell under the Priority One category.
In addition to these numbers being significantly smaller in recent years than in previous decades, DHS reports that the demographics have changed as well.
Many children unaccompanied
In 2015, for the first time, migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Central America outnumbered Mexicans attempting to enter the United States and continued to in 2016. Additionally, fewer single adults are making the journey, but more families and unaccompanied children are being apprehended.
Nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended in 2016.
In the report, DHS briefly said it was working to “address the underlying factors causing this migration” from Central America.