Border Apprehensions Drop Again, but Impact of Crisis Felt in the Interior
By Jennifer G. Hickey | FAIR Take | December 2019
There was positive news this week when Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported border apprehensions declined in November, which represents the sixth straight month. Defying the seasonal increases witnessed in recent years, apprehensions have actually fallen by 70 percent since the border crisis peaked in May. The critical caveat to the downward trend in apprehensions is that while they are an indication of falling illegal migration, the statistics do not capture the number of illegal aliens who evade detention or arrest.
According to acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan, a combination of initiatives aimed specifically at deterring the family unit migration that was driving the surge, a tightening of asylum loopholes and agreements secured with Mexico and Northern Triangle nations were key to making progress in countering the illegal alien surge.
“The message is clear—don’t give away your life savings to the smugglers and risk the lives of your family. You will no longer be allowed to exploit our laws and be allowed into our country,” said Morgan at Monday’s press conference.
However, with Congress balking on taking any action to address the border crisis and states pushing sanctuary policies, the immigration enforcement agencies were forced to divert necessary resources to deal with the influx along the southern border and that affected interior enforcement efforts.
“There is no doubt that the border crisis, coupled with the unwillingness of some local jurisdictions that choose to put politics over public safety has made it more difficult for ICE to carry out its Congressionally mandated interior enforcement mission,” said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Matthew T. Albence upon the release of the agencies’ FY2019 Enforcement and Removal Operations Report.
The report notes that while there was a 68 percent increase of illegal aliens either apprehended or found inadmissible at the border, the number of illegal aliens detained by ICE in the interior fell by almost 10 percent compared to FY 2018. Furthermore, administrative arrests of convicted criminals dropped by 12 percent, which the report says in real world terms means that 13,000 fewer illegal alien criminals were arrested.
Other takeaways from the report:
- The average length of stay in ICE detention was 34.3 days, which represents an improvement over 39.4 days in FY 2018 and 43.7 days in FY 2017.
- Of the 267,258 individuals removed by ICE in FY 2019, 85 percent had previously spent time in ICE detention.
- The largest number of arrests (16,900) were made by the agents from the Dallas field office, which covers north Texas and Oklahoma. Of those arrested, more than 95 percent either had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.