More than 100 Kenyans were deported from the United States last year, 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 deportation of Africans.
US authorities expelled 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 deported 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 deported 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 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 US 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 US.
“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 to 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 such as backlog of cases is also slowing the rate of deportations.