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FACT CHECK: Are Border Apprehensions Down 70% Since May, As Trump Says?

Brad Sylvester on November 25, 2019

During a Nov. 14 campaign rally in Bossier City, Louisiana, President Donald Trump claimed, “We have successfully reduced illegal crossings by more than 70 percent since May.”

“We just released brand new border numbers today showing that we have successfully reduced illegal crossings by more than 70% since May.” –@realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/jg1PeNXwxR

— GOP (@GOP) November 15, 2019

Verdict: True

In October, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported 35,444 apprehensions at the southern border, down roughly 73 percent from 132,856 apprehensions in May.

Fact Check:

Border Patrol agents at the southern border with Mexico apprehend approximately 1,300 migrants attempting to enter the U.S illegally per day. In fiscal 2019, Border Patrol made more than 851,000 border arrests – the highest number of arrests since fiscal 2007.

CBP reported only 35,444 apprehensions in October, the month with the most recent data. That figure is down more than 73 percent from May, when CBP reported 132,856 apprehensions. Border arrest numbers typically peak in the spring, when the weather is most favorable for crossings, only to decline in the summer and winter months, when temperatures are more extreme and less favorable for crossing.

(Credit: Brad Sylvester/ The Daily Caller News Foundation) 

Additionally, October marked the first time in 18 months that the majority of apprehensions and “inadmissible aliens” was made up of Mexican nationals and not those from Northern Triangle countries, according to Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Commissioner Mark Morgan. Apprehensions of single adults also surpassed families.

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador make up the Northern Triangle. Migrants from these Central American countries have made up the majority of illegal border crossers in recent years.

“We have launched historic and unprecedented action to secure our border,” said Trump during the rally, touting the drop in apprehensions as evidence that policy changes implemented by his administration have successfully reduced illegal border crossings.

Back in January, the Trump administration implemented the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program. The initiative, commonly referred to as Remain in Mexico, requires asylum seekers to go back to Mexico while their claims are processed in the U.S. immigration court system. Prior to its implementation, asylum seekers that illegally crossed the border prior to filing their claims were allowed to stay in the U.S. while their applications processed. (RELATED: Can Non-Citizens Apply For Asylum At A US Embassy?)

The MPP program has significantly contributed to the decrease in the number of illegal border crossings, according to immigrant think tanks and Trump administration officials. Metering, which restricts the number of migrants who can legally enter the U.S. and request asylum, and a slew of other policies have also played a role.

“The Migrant Protection Protocols has been a key component to the success we have had addressing the crisis,” said former Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan in an October statement(RELATED: Does Illegal Immigration Cost The US More Than $100 Billion A Year?)

However, some asylum officers and immigration advocacy groups have criticized the policy for being unsafe and possibly illegal. “It places migrants in direct danger. They face high rates of kidnapping, murder, disappearances, extortion, and sexual violence – at the hands of organized crime and Mexican enforcement agencies,” reads an infographic from the Latin American Working Group, a nonprofit immigration advocacy group.

Morgan credited increased cooperation from the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico, which has stepped up deportations of migrants and increased enforcement on its southern border in recent months, with helping stem the flow of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border as well.

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