In January of 2017, the month of President Donald Trump's inauguration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended 33 percent fewer people trying to cross into the U.S. illegally as compared to November of 2016. These latest numbers could give Trump just what he needs to convince his base he is doing just he promised throughout the campaign: to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants across the southern border.
But is that really the case? Or are these latest numbers typical of any other year in the same month? The answer appears to be the latter.
While the number of border apprehensions tend to fluctuate month-to-month and season-to-season, typically peaking during the spring months, there is often a decline in border apprehensions between the months of December and January. In December 2015, for example, there were 37,014 border apprehensions compared with just 23,758 apprehensions in January 2016 — a 36 percent decrease, according to CNN.
CBP said the Jan. 2017 border apprehensions included families, children from Central America, Haitian nationals traveling from Brazil and Cuban nationals trying to enter the country.
The number of Cuban immigrants attempting to enter the country dropped sharply from 5,000 in December to just 1,572 in January. Shortly before leaving office, former President Barack Obama ended the 22-year-old "wet foot, dry foot" immigration policy, which allowed any Cuban immigrant who made it to the U.S. to stay and become a legal resident.
According to the agency, the 2017 number included people trying to sneak into the U.S. where there was no port of entry, and those attempting to come in through one of the 48 legal ports of entry. The December to January increase came at the same time CBP also reported increases from November to December, another statistic that Trump and his supporters could use to make the argument that immigrants tried to come across the border before the new president was sworn in and changed the U.S.'s immigration policies.
From Jan. 1 to Jan. 31, the agency reported there were a total of 31,575 individuals apprehended on the southwest border. That's compared with 43,254 apprehensions during the month of December and 47,211 apprehensions in November.
The latest figures come as Trump has promised to reduce the flow of illegal immigration, issuing an executive order during his first week in office in which he vowed to "employ all lawful means” to enforce existing immigration laws in sanctuary cities, even if that meant withdrawing their federal funding. But, as the agency noted, while apprehensions were down from recent months, overall legal immigration was at "elevated levels."
From Oct. 1, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2017, there were a total of 408,870 apprehensions made along the southwest border, including at ports of entry and between ports of entry. That number was up from 331,333 in 2015, but down from 479,371 in 2014. Of those 408,870 individuals, more than one-fourth were "inadmissible," the term used for those seeking lawful entry but determined by authorities to be unlawful.
While the number of apprehensions does not reveal the number of illegal immigrants managing to get across the U.S.-Mexico border without being caught, it is a good indicator of overall immigration flow.
As the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan put it, "the more people caught, the more are believed to be getting through."
(H/T: Washington Times)