851,000 Arrests for Illegal Crossings of Border the Most in 12 Years

Immigrants from Central America reach the border in Tijuana, Mexico, to seek asylum in the United States on April 29, 2018. (Kyodo via AP)

According to data obtained by the Washington Examiner, there were 851,000 apprehensions of illegals trying to cross the southern border with Mexico, the most since 2007. The data will be released later this week by the Department of Homeland Security.


Significantly, the number does not include those who showed up at the border claiming asylum, or who passed through and were then turned away.

As of Aug. 31, another 263,000 people were encountered at ports by the Office of Field Operations, a component of CBP. Border Patrol agents are stationed on the land between ports of entry while field operations officers stay at ports. These people are not arrested but are simply denied entry.

These numbers do not include additional arrests and denied port crossers at the U.S.-Canada border and along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, nor does it include the September figure for those encountered at the ports.

The situation got better as the year went along, as policies put in place by the administration made a significant impact on numbers.

But the 40,000 people taken into custody in September is less than one-third of the 132,000 arrests made in May at the height of a surge of illegal immigrants.

Roughly 40,000 people were apprehended after crossing into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California during the month of September. That number was added to the previous 11 months to bring fiscal 2019, which ran Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, to slightly more than 851,000 arrests. Those arrested for illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico may have claimed asylum once in custody, but that figure is not released by the government each month.


The 40,000 apprehended at the border in September is still far too high, but at least it’s manageable. You might recall that the asylum-seeking caravans were also coming through the Mexican border at that time, adding to the crush of humanity looking to get in.

Another factor was the number of family units that were looking to cross the border:

The biggest change in fiscal 2019 compared to the Border Patrol’s previous 95 years was the number of families who arrived. In 2015, fewer than 80,000 people who arrived with a family member were among those apprehended by the Border Patrol. As of Aug. 31, more than 450,000 people who arrived with a family member were taken into custody.

That’s what made this year so difficult. The humanitarian crisis of tens of thousands of families arriving after trekking a couple of thousand miles was caused by the total unpreparedness of immigration officials to handle such a massive influx of people. As the crisis deepened, various open-border groups began to encourage Central American family migrants to come to the U.S. and make the situation unbearable, as facilities that were built for a few thousand families were totally overwhelmed. While part of the blame for the crisis goes to a lack of foresight by border agencies, it can certainly be said that the crisis was at least partly manufactured by the open-borders crowd, done in service to their own agenda.


We’ll see if the administration’s policies can continue to keep the numbers looking to cross the border down.


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