May Border Apprehensions Reach 21-Year High
FAIR Take | June 2021
The immigration policies of the Biden administration created a crisis at the Southwest border, and it continues raging on. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released May’s border encounters data, showing that CBP agents apprehended 180,034 illegal aliens. That number is a slight increase from April’s total of 178,854. May’s total is the highest single-month number of border apprehensions in 21 years.
CBP apprehended 929,868 illegal aliens at the Southwest border in just eight months of the current fiscal year. That is an astounding number and dwarfs the FY 2020 total of 458,088. It will surely eclipse the FY 2019 total of 977,509 – a number that reflects the last border crisis of 2019.
During that crisis, the Trump administration put in place a number of tools to curb illegal immigration and fraudulent asylum-seekers. They struck a series asylum accords with the northern triangle countries which were de facto safe-third country agreements, meaning that any alien who traveled to the U.S. by way of a safe country was ineligible from applying for asylum in the United States. The Biden administration ended those agreements.
Additionally, the Trump administration created the Migrant Protection Protocols program (MPP) which stipulated that aliens had to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims were adjudicated in the United States. Crucially, this ended the practice of “catch and release” where CBP agents would detain migrants, give them a Notice to Appear, and then release them into the interior of the country – giving migrants what they wanted in the first place, which was a way to get into the United States and then disappear. The MPP program completely eliminated the incentive for migrants to abuse our asylum process by submitting fraudulent claims as a way to enter the U.S., while clearing the way to allow those with legitimate claims to enter the system. The Biden administration eliminated the MPP program as well.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration also wisely instituted Title 42 restrictions which allowed the United States to quickly remove all illegal aliens it encountered, without giving them the ability to apply for asylum. This significantly reduced the number of illegal aliens fraudulently claiming asylum as a way to enter the country. But the Biden administration foolishly waived Title 42 restrictions for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and family units, which resulted in the predictable result of them swarming the border. Coyotes and smugglers quickly began sending UACs to the border, and their numbers quickly overwhelmed the capacity of border and health agencies.
The Biden administration – particularly Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas – is entirely responsible for the situation at our Southwest border. Their actions created this crisis, and President Biden’s popularity is suffering because of it, with a majority of Americans disapproving of his handling of the border crisis.
The Biden administration can turn this around, if they choose to. They can reinstate MPP and re-enter into the asylum agreements with the northern triangle countries. Instead of spending billions of dollars to foolishly address the “root causes” of migration in Central America, they could finish construction of the border wall, which would force illegal aliens to ports of entry.
Unfortunately, few in the administration seem to believe that what is happening at the Southwest border is a crisis at all. Until that perception changes at the White House and relevant agencies, the apprehension numbers will only continue growing.