Border Apprehensions Drop for Fourth Consecutive Month
By Heather Ham-Warren | FAIR Take | October 2019
On Tuesday October 8th, Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), announced that there were approximately 52,000 illegal alien apprehensions in September — marking the fourth consecutive month in which the number of apprehensions has fallen.
Typically, there is a decline in apprehensions as a result of summer heat. However, recent data shows that the seasonal dip in apprehensions during the hot summer months usually accounts for an average decrease of only 12 to 15 percent. The September numbers are actually a whopping two-thirds reduction from the highest numbers in May and may actually be due to several key Trump administration initiatives implemented in order to rein in the “catch and release” policies that have incentivized illegal immigration for decades, including:
- Mexican Government’s Crackdown on Illegal Immigration – In response to tariff threats from the Trump administration, Mexico promised to tighten security measures on its own southern border, dispatching thousands of troops to the Guatemalan border.
- The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) – This agreement with the Mexican government allows for would-be asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while they await their court hearings in the U.S., which are generally 50 to 60 days later. So far, 35,000 people have been enrolled in the MPP instead of being caught and released into the U.S. interior.
- The Safe Third Country Agreement with Guatemala – The recent “safe third country” agreement between the United States and Guatemala requires migrants that pass through Guatemala to apply for asylum there first. Only after they have been denied asylum in Guatemala can they apply in the U.S.
- New Flores Rule – The new Flores rule allows for families seeking asylum to be held together in family residential centers while their asylum cases are heard by the U.S. courts. Called a “game changer” by CBP’s Morgan, this updated rule could greatly reduce catch and release by holding applicants until they receive their day in court.
- Construction of the Border Wall – The funding has been made available and repaired border wall is currently being built. This wall, where built, has been an incredibly effective deterrent to illegal immigration and has helped reduce cross-border crime.
It is certainly encouraging to see the apprehension numbers dropping. However, they are still unacceptably high. Additionally, because all of this progress has occurred outside of the legislative framework, it could undone easily by another administration. In other words, Congress needs to act to ensure these smart reforms stay in place.