Is there a crisis at the border as President Donald Trump says, or are illegal border crossings the lowest they’ve ever been? A media that ought to know better has been arguing the latter.

  • According to the New York Times in an article published in January 2019, the reality is that “Illegal border crossings have been declining for nearly two decades. In 2017, border-crossing apprehensions were at their lowest point since 1971.”
  • In an article published in November 2018, Politico asked “Immigration crisis? The stats tell a different story,” informing us that “to find a year with fewer border arrests than 2017, you’d have to go all the way back to 1971.”
  • CNBC reported in February that border crossings were at record lows “as Trump declares a national emergency to build a wall.”

Why do we suppose they all used 2017 as the year to end their analysis when we’re currently in the year 2019? Because illegal border crossings exploded immediately afterward. Trump’s rhetoric did have an apparent immediate chilling effect on border crossings during his first year in office. Admittedly I’d expected an immediate surge in border crossings following Trump’s victory before any additional border wall could be constructed, but Trump’s tough rhetoric appeared to be enough – at least for the time being. When it comes to a wall, “if you build it, they won’t come,” but there’s no new border to speak of.

According to an analysis from Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz using the most recent data, the invasion is worse than ever.

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According to Customs and Border Protection’s preliminary figures, 76,325 illegal aliens were apprehended at the border in February, more than any other month in over a decade since the decline of migration from Mexico. A record 40,325 family units arrived, blowing out the previous records by almost 10,000.

A record 76,325 apprehensions for one month is truly staggering, not only because it’s the single worst month at the border since fiscal year 2008, but because almost all of these people get to stay on our dime. Projected for the whole year, this pace would result in 916,000 apprehensions. But the pace is growing every month, because the catch-and-release expands. As the Washington Post observes, “The number of migrants taken into custody last year jumped 39 percent from February to March, and a similar increase this month would push levels to 100,000 detentions or more.” That would be an annual pace of 1.2 million.

Just take a look at the monthly apprehensions graphically, and it becomes clear why 2017 was always the cherrypicked year.

Judge Dana Sabraw’s July 15 (and subsequent) rulings effectively ended the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy towards illegal immigration. The administration’s controversial policy of separating illegal immigrant families at the border was aimed to deter illegals from attempting in the first place, and the immediate spike in border apprehensions following Judge Sabraw’s ruling effectively removing that policy indicates that it was working.  The Obama administration implemented similarly harsh anti-illegal immigration policies in 2014 and 2015 when it was them facing a crisis at the border, aiming to detain and deport families from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala as quickly as possible. A federal judge ended up blocking Obama’s plans to lock up Central American immigrant mothers and their children without bond as a deterrent. I can’t say I remember any comparable outrage in the media over those policies.

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Even if there were a gradual decline in apprehensions at the border, it shouldn’t change anyone’s mind that the border situation needs a fix. After all, we have roughly fifteen million illegal aliens in America, and even if the monthly flow of illegals across the border were declining, there is still a cumulative increase in the illegal population each and every month.

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