WaPo: Border Patrol Apprehensions Reach 35-Year High

FY 2021 is Joe Biden’s annus horribilis, but oddly, CBP doesn’t seem concerned

By Andrew R. Arthur on October 20, 2021

It’s October 20, and CBP hasn’t released its official statistics on the number of illegal migrants who were apprehended at the Southwest border in September yet. Fortunately, the Washington Post has greater access than the general public, and has published them for the agency. They are not good for border security, the country, or the president. FY 2021 was Joe Biden’s annus horribilis, to paraphrase Her Majesty, the Queen, but oddly, CBP does not seem overly concerned.

All told, as per the Post, CBP “encountered” 1.7 million-plus migrants at the Southwest border, a combination of Border Patrol apprehensions and aliens deemed inadmissible at the land borders there in FY 2021. For comparison, that’s about as many people as live in Biden’s home state of Delaware (990,334) plus his current residence in the District of Columbia (714,153).

The Post article fails to clearly delineate between illegal migrants who were caught by Border Patrol and those arrested at ports of entry, but it appears that the numbers that the Post provides by nationality are apprehensions by Border Patrol: 608,000 Mexican nationals, 309,000 Hondurans, 279,000 Guatemalans, 96,000 from El Salvador, and 367,000 “others”, which includes “Haitians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorans, Cubans, Brazilians and migrants from dozens of other nations”.

That equals 1.659 million aliens. The Post reports that: “The Border Patrol made 1.69 million arrests nationwide in 1986, according to historical data that does not indicate how many were along the southern border”, but that’s not actually correct.

Border Patrol does keep statistics on Southwest border apprehensions going back to the Eisenhower administration (in FY 1960), and Border Patrol has never apprehended this many aliens in that 61-year period. That last fiscal year in which it came close was FY 2000, when apprehensions at the Southwest border totaled 1,643,679.

Of course, that was before Congress beefed up Border Patrol staffing and resources in response to the September 11th attacks.

Since then, apprehensions have surpassed one million only twice, in FY 2005 and FY 2006. Even then, however, they never exceeded 1.2 million. It appears (and again, the official statistics have not yet been released), that Biden has beaten Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, both Bushes, Obama, and Trump, by a country mile.

Most notably, however, of those 1.643 million-plus aliens who were apprehended in FY 2000, just over 1.615 million were Mexican nationals (98 percent of the total), almost exclusively adult males. They could be quickly processed and turned around, most under an informal process known as “voluntary return” (VR).

As I explained in a September 28 post, those FY 2000 apprehensions involved about 900,000 individuals; the remaining apprehensions were made when illegal migrants who had been returned turned around and came back, only to return again.

That illicit action is known as “recidivism”, and you will hear a number of the president’s supporters and others who are comfortable with the current state of the border assert that the recidivism rate is high this year, too.

As the Post notes, 61 percent of aliens encountered by CBP were expelled under CDC orders issued in response to the Covid-19 pandemic under Title 42 of the U.S. Code. More than a few of them could be expected to have tried to enter illegally again, some serially.

Respectfully, though, if just 61 percent of the illegal migrants (again, almost exclusively single adult males from Mexico) who were apprehended by Border Patrol in FY 2000 were quickly returned under VR or subject to expedited removal (meaning that they were more formally deported, but almost as quickly as under VR), I would be shocked.

I was at the INS General Counsel’s office at the time handling enforcement, and would put the total of quick expulsions at somewhere north of 95 percent. Few made asylum claims, and the rest who were more formally processed were largely subjected to prosecution for illegally entering multiple times (the worst offender I saw had made 48 illegal entries).

That said, given the fact that few of the illegal migrants whom CBP encountered at the Southwest border in FY 2021 were actually detained (as the law mandates), the vast majority of the remaining 39 percent (roughly 647,000 aliens) were released into the United States. That is 23,000 more than live in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I) home state of Vermont (623,251).

This is an unmitigated, and ongoing, humanitarian and national security disaster. As I stated above, however, CBP leadership does not seem overly concerned.

The Post reports:

During a confirmation hearing Tuesday for Chris Magnus, the Tucson police chief Biden has nominated to lead CBP, Republican senators pressed him to characterize the surge as a “crisis.”

Magnus called it a “significant challenge,” echoing the Biden administration’s preferred term, adding that “the numbers are very high.”

Candidates facing confirmation receive intense briefings from the administration prior to appearing before the Senate, and are expected to toe the party line, which Magnus plainly did. Again, respectfully, 1.7 million aliens are not a “significant challenge”, unless border security is a formality and not a national security issue.

If Chief Magnus believes that the border is not a national security vulnerability, that is a real concern for the nation. Should the administration concur, it needs to strongly reconsider its position before something really bad happens.

I can provide better analysis when CBP issues its official numbers, expected later this week (according to the Post). But the current situation at the Southwest border is bad — worse than I have ever seen in my almost 30-year career in immigration.

The reference to Queen Elizabeth II at the start quoted a speech that Her Majesty gave on the 40th anniversary of her succession in November 1992. It was not a good year for her or the monarchy, with various royal scandals and a tragic fire at Windsor Castle.

With her trademark reserve and understatement, she confessed: “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.” FY 2021 at the Southwest border is not a fiscal year that the president should look back on with any pleasure, at all. God save the Queen, and God protect the United States from the “significant challenge” at the Southwest border.