With President Trump visiting San Diego to tour prototypes for his border wall project, NBC 7 Investigates takes a closer look at local costs for enforcement of the prototypes and what the numbers say about immigration arrests in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
Border Wall Prototype Enforcement
Before today's visit, the city and County of San Diego have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars related to the border wall prototypes.
During one month last fall, the wall prototypes were built near the border in Otay Mesa.
City records show the city of San Diego paid close to $278,000 for security surrounding the border wall prototypes. That figure covered overtime, supplies, and services for San Diego Police officers who had to patrol the area.
Here’s a breakdown of the costs:
• $227,500 in overtime pay for San Diego Police Officers
• $5,778 in meals for those assigned to security
• $10,603 audio / radio equipment
• $14,152 tactical equipment
• $19,817 less lethal ammunition like smoke grenades and rubber bullets
Deputies from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department also provided security for the border wall prototypes. A spokesperson for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department told NBC 7 Investigates deputies worked about 10,000 hours of overtime, costing about $761,000.
San Diego City Council Member Georgette Gomez has been critical of the border wall project, calling it “a huge waste of taxpayer dollars.” Gomez sponsored a resolution condemning the wall project before construction began.
“San Diegans have made it clear, we do not want Trump's wasteful wall dividing our communities further,” Gomez said in an emailed statement to NBC 7 Investigates, “Refugees and immigrants are all welcome here, and San Diego will continue bridging our communities closer."
NBC 7 Investigates asked the city of San Diego if the federal government would be reimbursing for any costs related to border wall security but that question was not immediately answered.
Illegal Migration Over the Border
During the campaign, the president pledged to build a "big, beautiful wall" and crack down on illegal immigration. NBC 7 Investigates wanted to know if more undocumented immigrants are being arrested along our southern border.
Numbers from the latest Southwest Border Migration report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection was released last month. The report compares a 5-month time period from October to February the past two years.
From October 2016 to February 2017, the report states agents arrested 254,499 undocumented immigrants along the southwestern border with Mexico. The following year, the number went down to 136,201 arrests.
The San Diego field office, which includes San Diego and Imperial Counties, reported the number of undocumented children apprehended went up slightly from 862 to 873. Most of the unaccompanied minors that are arrested come from Guatemala. The numbers of families apprehended went down from 2,207 to 1,034.
Customs and Border Protection said last fiscal year, they saw the lowest levels of illegal cross-border migration since 1980. The U.S. Border Patrol had reported nearly 61-percent of migrant arrests occur in Texas.
NBC 7 Investigates asked a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection if there was a known reason for the overall drop in arrests but the spokesperson said he did not want to speculate.
Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan has said the drop in arrests is primarily due to the Trump Administration's tougher immigration stance.
Non-Criminal Immigration Arrests
NBC 7 Investigates has learned in a fourth month period, San Diego and Imperial Counties have had the most immigration arrests where subjects had no prior criminal history in the country.
An analysis of arrest data provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows officers arrested 1,622 people without criminal records and 637 people with criminal records from October 2017 through January 6, 2018.
To put it in perspective, 72% of the immigration arrests made by ICE in San Diego and Imperial Counties were suspects with no prior criminal history.
Atlanta had the second highest number of people arrested with no prior criminal history in that same time period.
Lauren Mack, a spokesperson for ICE, told NBC 7 Investigates, “ICE arrests of non-criminals in the San Diego/Imperial counties reflect trends involving illegal immigration activity at the local borders, apprehensions made during routine fugitive operations and individuals encountered at the local jails."
San Diego and Imperial Counties also saw the second highest number of people deported with no prior criminal history during the same time period. ICE numbers show 3,658 people were deported that were considered “non-criminal” while 2,033 people were arrested with criminal records.
The San Antonio region saw the most deportations of people with no prior criminal history, reporting 8,958 people deported in the first fiscal year quarter 2018.