More than 100 Kenyans were deported from the United States in 2017, a sharp increase during Donald Trump’s first year as president.
The rise in the number of Kenyans removed from the US — from 63 in 2016 to 103 last year — reflects an overall increase in deportations of Africans.
US authorities expelled a total of 2, 134 individuals from sub-Saharan countries in the past fiscal year, which ended on September 30, 2017.
That was more than double the 920 removed from the US during the corresponding period in 2016.
The jump for the sub-Saharan region may be partly a product of Mr Trump’s crackdown on unauthorised immigration. It might also be related to his reportedly vulgar characterisation of African countries, the New York-based online publication Quartz recently suggested in a story on increased expulsions of Africans.
Somalia, one of eight countries targeted in the latest iteration of Mr Trump’s selective ban on immigration, accounted for the sharpest increase in African removals.
A total of 521 Somalis were sent home last year, compared to 198 in the previous year.
While Africans still account for only a small share of all deportations from the US, the steep rise in their numbers stands in contrast to a drop in total “removals” last year.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) reported that 226,119 unauthorised immigrants were deported in fiscal 2017, compared to 240,225 in the previous year.
ICE defines a removal as “the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States based on an order of removal.”
ICE attributes the decrease in overall removals primarily to a decline in the number of Mexicans and Central Americans apprehended as they attempt to cross unlawfully into the United States.
“Overall removals are down because the border is under better control than it has been in 45 years,” ICE deputy director Thomas Homan said at a news conference last year
Simultaneously, more immigrants without papers are being arrested inside the US. That shift may also help explain the relative increase in African removals, since many African violators of US immigration law had been cleared for entry at border stations but had then overstayed their visas.
A growing number of court challenges is also slowing the rate of deportations.
The US federal immigration court system now faces a backlog of more than 600,000 cases, the Washington Post reports. Appeals against removal orders are growing as US-based immigrant advocacy groups attract greater funding from opponents of Mr Trump’s policy.
But ICE removals from the US were actually greater during the Obama years than has so far been the case under Mr Trump.
Removals climbed to a high of 410,000 in the 2012 fiscal year, leading critics to deride Mr Obama as “deporter in chief.”