Apprehensions and attempted entry by inadmissible persons at America's southwestern border rose slightly in April of 2018, but was more than three times higher than the same month in 2017, new data from the Customs and Border Protection Agency show.
More than 50,000 individuals tried to cross the southwestern border in April, the second month in a row that that many people have attempted the crossing. Some 12,000 individuals attempted to cross but were found inadmissible, bringing the FY 2018 total to 63,000. And 38,000 were apprehended attempting to cross between ports of entry, bringing the FY 2018 total to more than 200,000.
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Among the group apprehended, there were some 4,000 unaccompanied minors, and just under 10,000 family units. Both unaccompanied minors and family units are, as a matter of policy, only detained briefly before being released into the interior pending further deportation proceedings. Estimates from the Center for Immigration Studies indicate that only half of all of those individuals released pending further hearings actually show up for their subsequent trial.
The major increase in April of 2018 as compared to the previous April—when just 15,000 people were apprehended—signals the end of a historic drop in cross-border movement following the election of President Donald Trump. The so-called Trump effect saw immigration levels hitting five year lows in the months following Trump’s swearing in, likely motivated by the new Commander-in-Chief’s tough-on-immigration rhetoric.
Now, however, immigration has rebounded. April 2018’s rate of immigration outpaces that of FY 2016 and 2015, but is lower than rates in FY 2014 and 2013. It is the highest rate recorded in FY 2018 to date, although essentially unchanged from March of 2018.
"The recently released April 2018 Southwest Border Migration numbers underscore the continuing security crisis along our southwest border," said Tyler Houlton, spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS, as well as other federal departments, have responded to this comparative surge with a number of law enforcement efforts. Early last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy for the prosecution of illegal immigration offenses along the southern border; the latest data indicate that immigration prosecutions are indeed on the rise. And ICE has ramped up its enforcement in the interior, with arrests hitting a three-year high under Trump.
The DHS has also upped its efforts, according to Houlton. They have increased the number of referrals to the Department of Justice for prosecution, and the two departments have worked together to "surge" additional judges and attorneys in immigration courts, to help fight the ever-growing backlog of pending cases.
"If you enter our country illegally, you have broken the law and will be referred for prosecution. DHS has zero tolerance for those who break the law and will no longer exempt classes or groups of individuals from prosecution. Whether you are a single adult or an adult member of a family unit, if you are apprehended you will be prosecuted and put in removal proceedings," Houlton said.