In September the media reported that the Obama administration was sitting on a damning Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report that called into question the administration’s claim that as many as 81 percent of people attempting to cross the border illegally are apprehended.
This new report, whose full text the Center for Immigration Studies has now obtained, estimates that nearly half of illegal aliens slip through the southern border undetected.
The report was apparently completed in May, leading some to suspect that the Obama administration did not want it released for fear that it would bolster Donald Trump’s call for a border wall.
According to Fox News, the report was requested by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees as part of the 2016 Omnibus Bill and “has been shrouded in secrecy.” In response, a spokesman for DHS stated that claims about the report not being released for political reasons were “false” and that “the work is still preliminary and requires further refinement, to ensure the new measures are accurate and reliable.”
Among other things, the report measures total level of illegal entry, the probability of apprehension, and the effect of law enforcement in deterring illegal entry. It relies on DHS databases of border apprehension records supplemented by Border Patrol observations, surveillance of illegal entries, and surveys of illegal aliens. The report was completed by the Institute for Defense Analyses, which played no role in the report’s release here.
For 2015, the estimated apprehension rate of illegal aliens between ports of entry on the southern border is only 54 percent. The report finds that although there has been a steep fall in total illegal entries over the past 15 years, there has not been a steep rise in the probability of apprehension over the same time period. Still, there has been some rise; shockingly, the report’s authors find that the estimated apprehension rate between ports of entry in 2005 was only 36 percent.
The report also notes that of illegal aliens crossing at ports of entry — for example, with fake IDs or hidden in vehicles — only 29 percent were estimated to have been apprehended in 2014, and only 39 percent in 2015.
Another interesting number highlighting the Central American influx and perhaps an increased effort on the part of immigration attorneys is the total requests for asylum. In 2009, Obama’s first year in office, there were 17,000 requests for asylum along the southern border; in 2014 there were 170,000 such requests.