The problem with waiting months to act decisively at the border is that we become accustomed to the new normal of record border numbers.
According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), April set yet another record, with a total of 109,000 apprehensions at the southwest border. Unless the administration harnesses this news and calls for a complete shutoff of immigration processing at the border, it’s unlikely that the numbers will fall significantly. The partial measures being pursued currently might have worked a year ago when we warned about the tsunami, but not now that we are squarely in the storm.
Here are the key takeaways from the April CBP border report:
- In total, 109,144 individuals were apprehended at the border – 98,977 between points of entry and 10,167 at points of entry. This is the highest number in 12 years, it is very likely the highest number of unique individuals of all time, given that many in the past were the same individuals deported multiple times within the same week, while almost all of these are first-timers.
- The 58,474 individuals in family units set another record, but an increasing number of people are also coming as single adults, 31,606. The overwhelming number of single adults are from Mexico, while most of the family units and unaccompanied teens are from Central America.
- The increases over the previous month seemed to be from the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), El Paso, and Yuma sectors, the three busiest corridors in absolute numbers. Overall, for this fiscal year, every sector has seen a massive increase in family units.
- Guatemala still leads the pack for the most migrants coming in all categories, followed by Honduras, with a sharp drop-off for Salvadorans. Overall, 301,900 Guatemalans were apprehended at and between points of entry since the beginning of fiscal year 2018. In other words, in just 19 months, 1.7 percent of Guatemala’s population came to our border, and that is on top of the 815,000 Guatemalan nationals who already lived here, most of them illegally. A recent poll showed that a third of Guatemalans would like to immigrate to the U.S. A total of 224,078 Hondurans have come since FY 2018, 2.4 percent of the population. That is on top of the 623,000 already here. This means that the size of these countries’ populations in America equal roughly 6.6 percent and 9.2 percent of their respective populations in Guatemala and Honduras. “Only” 79,000 have come from El Salvador over the past 19 months, but because they dominated the Central American migration in previous years, we already had 1.4 million Salvadorans in this country as of last year, representing roughly 22 percent of their entire homeland population!
Has the trajectory been bent? Will the numbers go down in May? Well, CBP reported on Tuesday that during the first week in May, there were 10,000 apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley, a new weekly record. During the 30 days of April, there were 36,681 apprehensions in the RGV. It is therefore clear that the message has not yet gone out to Central America that we are no longer tolerating this violation of sovereignty.