Four questions about illegal crossings at the Mexican border

Are illegal border crossings going up? Ans: Yes compared to recent years.

Immigrant and Customs Enforcement reports the number of arrests. Between FY 2013 and 2016, total apprehensions varied between 489,000 and 569,000. They were 415,000 in FY 2017. Between March and September 2017 the monthly figures were well below the average of recent years. Since then the monthly figures have risen and in the most recent reported months, March and April 2018, they are well above the average of recent years.

To put this into context, through the 1990s and until the mid 2000s, border arrests were always over 1.2 million. ICE estimates that it captures 55% to 80% of all those who cross. This means that in a year in which 500,000 are arrested, some 100,000 – 400,000 or more succeed in crossing illegally.

Illegal crossings are heavily seasonal, in response to farm and construction job openings in the U.S. The job markets are very good in the U.S. The highest number of arrests are usually in March, April and May.

What are the illegal crossings composed of?Ans: mostly individuals seeking work.

Politico reports that of the roughly 50,000 persons arrested in April, 2018, the breakdown was about this: single persons: 30,000; families: 15,000; unaccompanied children: 5,000.

What is the condition of unaccompanied children? Ans: vast increase in detention.

The number of unaccompanied children, which was small until about 2014, has soared, thereby vastly increasing the number of unaccompanied children in detention awaiting adjudication. In 2014 the number of children in detention was about 5,000. In March, 2018, there were 77,000.

A 2014 Migration Policy Institute report on the surge of unaccompanied children crossing is here.

What about separation of children from their parents? Ans. Caused by new ICE policy

Separation of children from their parents happens when families are arrested when they try to cross outside the formal ports of entry. The Trump administration decided to place the parents in federal detention. Children are not allowed in federal detention, thus are separated.

The official ports of entry are here.

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