Border Apprehensions Plummet in August
By Preston Huennekens | September 2019
In August, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended a total of 50,693 individuals at the southwest border – a 22 percent drop from the previous month and a nearly 56 percent drop since the high of 132,859 in May.
The drop is due to a number of actions taken by the Trump administration. The first are the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), known commonly as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. The MPP directs asylum seekers to reside in Mexico throughout the duration of their immigration proceedings. This prevents them from settling in the U.S. while their court case proceeds – a process that now takes years due to the backlog.
Second, the Mexican government appears to continue honoring its recent agreement with the United States to reduce Central American migration. Part of that agreement stipulated that unless Mexico took steps to reduce migrant flows, the U.S. would tariff Mexican goods at 5 percent. It never came to that, as Mexico deployed thousands of its new National Guardsmen to their southern border and began processing thousands of Central Americans. Mexico has since seen a surge of asylum applications.
Third, the administration announced in August that it planned to terminate the Flores agreement that bars the government from holding alien families together in custody longer than 20 days. The Flores settlement forces the federal government to prematurely release family units from detention. Flores all but assured that entering the United States with a child guaranteed free entry. The Flores settlement is one of a number of loopholes that FAIR has fought to overturn.
This decrease in apprehension numbers is a good sign that the Trump administration’s actions are having an effect. But while the number of apprehensions dropped significantly, they still remain the highest on record in August since fiscal year 2009. There is still a humanitarian and security crisis raging at our southern border, and so far only the administration cares to address it.
Congress must pass legislation to permanently address the loopholes that smugglers use to abuse our immigration system. Only then will apprehensions continue to drop. Without crucial legislative fixes, all of these efforts are merely temporary, and could easily be overturned by a future administration unconcerned about the effects of mass illegal immigration.