Did Mexican border apprehensions soar?

Details of Donald Trump’s decision to send National Guard to the Mexican border, have not been finalized.   He needs further consultation with the governors of the states involved.  His basis is that apprehensions are surging, as a result of increase attempts to illegal enter the US.   Note CBP data combines both apprehensions and inadmissibles together and for convenience I call them apprehensions.

I conclude the apprehensions at the Southwest border to Mexico have not suddenly soared, after an examination of the Customs and Border Patrol data.  In fact, apprehensions (approx 50,000) are very much in line with the prior five years.  What was very unusual was the pattern in FY17 as shown in the orange line.  The fiscal year 2017 goes from October 1, 2016 to Sep 30, 2017.  So, October 2016, during the Obama administration had a record number of apprehensions (67,000, I’m rounding the numbers to multiples of 1,000),  followed by a sharp drop off to a record low in April 2017.

Exactly why the  apprehensions in 2017 were abnormally low, maybe a combinations of a number of factors.  Remember,  these are immigrants who were either turned away at the border or caught attempting to get in.  The most obvious factor could be the perception of tougher enforcement at the border by President Trump.    But also remember when the economy of the US is doing well, this also tends to help Mexico and the other Latin American countries, so fewer immigrants attempt to cross the border.   The Mexican coyotes control the border crossings, with a network of associates in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and other countries, and I believe they   are charging very high fees (> $10,000) for their services, based on conversations I have had recently.

 

It isn’t easy to interpret these statistics.   The high number of apprehensions  as occurred in June 2014 (68,000 apprehensions) might be the result of  diligent efforts on the part of Customs officials, and not an increase in  the number of illegal  immigrants.   In 3 of the 5 years, there is a significant drop off apprehensions from May to Jun (2013, 2014 and  2015), but 2017 is markedly different with an increasing trend extending from April to Dec 2017.

Bottom line is these are the statistics of people who didn’t get into the US, and we don’t know how many did.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Twitter page:  CBP Statistics

 

 

 

Cost of Guarding Trump’s wall in San Diego

Ok.  This isn’t about the cost of guarding any actual fence or wall.   I note that  see through fence, rather than a solid wall has been long considered a more effective border security efforts.   Some prototypes include see through sections, so are they walls or fences.  Do we care?

This is about the eight standing prototypes in San Diego.   They must be guarded day and night against  graffiti artists, who would love to deface them probably with not very favorable opinions of Trump’s immigration policies.   The task to stand guard over these eight walls/fences falls to the San Diego city police and the San Diego County  Sheriff’s office.   NBC 7 local news in San Diego reports a total cost of around  one million dollars,  of which  $278,000 is for city police and $761,000 is for the Sheriff’s office.   The Sheriff’s office estimate  is for approximately 10,000 hours of overtime, coming out to $76/hour.  The cost estimate from NBC News is provided in the links.

There has been no reported arrest of graffiti artists,  so the security must be working.  This also may be to the no nonsense Trump position (Minimum mandatory sentence to all graffitists)  or the “Trump effect” of not daring to deface his wall.

The prototypes  have already been tested, I guess, by seeing if people can get over them.  It has been reported that all the prototypes passed, even the ones with see through parts.  If these prototypes are to stay until the security fence (the word I like) is built,  we may be looking at decades of prototype protection.  It would seem there should be some way to make money off of this.   San Diego Prototype Park?   Maybe do some landscaping, and build signs, explaining the features of each fence.

Or, invite local artists to paint the walls.  In Miami, we have Wynwood walls, which is very popular among tourists.

I suspect like many walls, this one will come down.   The destruction day should  be on YouTube.

And I expect Trump to stiff the city and county for all their good work.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

This report also goes into details of the drastic drop off of illegal immigrants entering the US through Mexico.   But the Department of Homeland Security is saying that in March 2018, there was a sudden surge in attempted illegal entry.   Of course, all we have are statistics on how many failed to get into the US, not how many evaded border patrols.   There are a lot of statistics floating around, and I’ll do my best to explain them in a future blog.

NBC 7 Investigates Looks at Local Border Wall Costs and Immigration Arrests

 

 

 

 

 

Immigration Removals

I know this is a hot issue.  This blog is narrowly focused on historical and recent removal statistics.  Here’s my conclusion – Trump in 2017 will likely deport the same or slightly fewer immigrants than Obama did in his last year.   I know this seems contrary to the general impression that Trump is far more aggressive against illegal immigrants  than Obama.  I will explain why.

President Obama record of deportations is shown below based on the ICE website.  There is an upward trend in deportations, peaking at 409,000 in 2012, then declining to 235,000 by 2015.  I’ve rounded the numbers for convenience.    The deportations in fiscal year (FY) 2016 are basically the same as 2015, at 240,000 removals,  or an average  20,000 deportations per month.

immigration trends

The blue bars are the non-criminal removals.   The priority shifted during Obama’s administration to target removals of illegal immigrants with a criminal convictions, as the blue bars become smaller percentages of the entire bar over time.

The decline in removals from 2012 to 2016 is likely attributable to a reduction of immigrants coming through from Mexico.   Security barriers including extension of the security fence and electronic surveillance likely discouraged immigrants or at least made the crossings much more expensive.   There is a network of “coyotes” operating in many countries, such as Brazil, Guatemala and Nicaragua which organize illegal entries into the US, and my extremely limited polling indicates the cost is rising, costing as much as $10,000.   News of increased border enforcement  can  discourage illegal entry.    Therefore, it should  not be interpreted that a decline in removals means that enforcement is lacking.

The Obama administration, through Executive Orders,  aggressively targeted illegal immigrants with criminal records, as shown by the graph below:

ice removals

 

The blue line is for “interior removals” (away from the border or near border towns) and is represents the Obama’s efforts to target immigrants with criminal conviction records.   I don’t have a breakdown of these offenses,  but they likely include fairly minor offenses.

ICE attributes the increase in removals in 2016 due to: (1) increase state and local cooperation through the priority enforcement program (PEP) and (2) increased border security.    They state that 99.3% of the illegal aliens by ICE in 2016 met the enforcement priorities.     The statistics for 2016 are provided below:

2016 Statistics
Number %
At border removals 174923 72.8
Interior removals 65332 27.2
Total 240255
At border convicted of a crime 78351 44.8
At border, not convicted of a crime 96572 55.2
total 174923
Int. removals convicted of crime 60318 92.3
Int. removals not convicted of a crime 5014 7.7
Total 65332
All removals convicted of crime 138669 57.7
All removals not convisted of crime 101586 42.3
Total 240255
At border, non-criminals 96572 95.1
Int. removals, non-criminals 5014 4.9
Total 101586
Suspect of confirmed gang members 2057 0.9
Not suspected or confirmed gang members 238198 99.1
Total 240255

Probably, if Trump’s policies are working as he claims,  the interior removals of immigrants convicted of crimes would rise above 60,318 in 2017.    The best estimate I have at present is 202,000 removals for 2017, which will be about 14% below 2016.   This would not be any fault of enforcement, but rather a decline in border crossings.  Separating fact from fiction will be challenging.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Week 1: Trump found in violation of Constitution

It’s all over the news, so I won’t go into the details.

The heroes are the attorneys for the ACLU.   So, I’m sending them a contribution right now.

ACLU

One Syrian women was reportedly about to be sent back to her home country when the ruling came down—and was promptly taken off the flight by Customs and Border Protection agents.

The stay is temporary.    There will be a court hearing to determine if the Executive Order is legal.   The Judge ordered the government to turn over all names of people facing deportation under the Order.

Will the Department comply with furnishing these documents?

GO ACLU!

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Immigration – Trump’s Plan

immigration

 

Donald Trump plans to remove 2 to 3 million illegal immigrants in 2017.   Obama deported approximately  400,000 per year, or about 2.5  million between 2009 and 2015.  Bush deported approximately 2 million immigrants during the 8 years he was President.

It all seems very unrealistic to be deporting 10 times more immigrants than last year.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-donald-trump-deport-immigrants-60-minutes-20161113-story.html

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Supreme Court Immigration Case

Messy.  Immigration policy is always messy.  This case is messy.  Obama’s order did not legalize anyone, but deferred deportation for a small fraction of immigrants here illegally.  It is estimated that it applied to 400,000 of the 11 million illegal immigrants.  The question is whether President Obama has this authority.  The Obama administration is on the defensive because the Texas court says he doesn’t have this authority and this caused a temporary halt to the program.   A future president could rescind this order.

Illegal immigrants who qualify get the all important green card, with alien registration numbers,  just like permanent residents.   So, opponents of the order argue that this simply promotes illegal immigration to this country.  However, new arrivals or anyone coming after 2010 are excluded from this order.   Many will not qualify because of a lack of documentation showing that they were here in 2010.

The outcome could go 4-4,  5-3 or even 6-2,  with Roberts and Kennedy joining with the liberals.  But, many observers seem to go for the 4-4 verdict, which is a win for the states suing the government and an  end Obama’s executive action.

The case will be decided in June.   The best analysis of the issues comes from scotusblog.com as follows:

Scotusblog.com

Obama’s executive order included the words “lawfully present”  for people here illegally.   It was argued by the Solicitor General  the executive order might work equally well without these 2 words.   But, attorneys supporting Texas, insisted the order allowed people to be lawfully present, whether it was explicitly stated or by the rights created by the order.

I guess the SC has  the option of striking down the entire order because it is simple contradiction of the legal status of these immigrants, and beyond the authority of the President to change.

But, the executive branch has the obligation to carry out the laws passed by Congress- not enact laws to their own liking.  So, this is the basis for Justice Kennedy’s comment that the executive order turns  policy making upside-down. This comment coming from Justice Kennedy gives experts the feeling of a 4-4 decision with Justice Kennedy siding with conservatives.  Thus, the argument that Obama’s executive order runs counter to the wishes of Congress is strong.

Another problem is whether Texas can show grounds for bringing the lawsuit, based on the financial harm of having to provide driver licences to all the “legally present”  immigrants.  There was extensive discussion on this point.  Texas has a law in place permitting driver licences to those in the  “deferred status” category, so they would be financially burden unless they changed their laws in which case they could not sue the government.   Chief Justice Roberts aptly called this a Catch-22.

Transcript of Oral Arguments

Liberals seemed more receptive to the argument that the realities of the immigration policy,  11 million illegal immigrants, and funds  be sufficient to deport a fraction  of these immigrants, so prioritization is within the right of the executive branch.  The Solicitor General Donald Verrilli opened with this observation, but Justice Sotomayor brought it up again during questioning.

The case will likely be a critical one, as this order is seen as an expansion of the authority of the president particularly among Republicans.  It is seen as a pragmatic solution to a Congress deadlocked on immigration reform among Democrats.   An Executive Order is not a law, but a temporary measure- but once immigrants get their deferred status, I honestly can’t see any future president wanting to rescind this order.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Supreme Court to hear immigration case

Our immigration system is broken, and I know how to fix it.  Boy, if that isn’t the most worn out political cliche heard every election.

President Obama attempted to make one fix, called deferred deportation,  through the use of an executive order.  The lower courts in Texas said he had exceeded his authority.  Since President Obama and the Justice Department did not agree with the ruling, they appealed to the Supreme Court.  They have agreed to hear the case.

The Supreme Court could have declined to hear the case, in which case, the program would be dead.  So, it is a victory in a way, because they may rule in favor of the deferred deportation program.  Oral arguments will likely be in April, with a decision in late June, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The president can  not change a person’s status from illegal to legal.  The immigration laws are set by Congress.  And this is where the mess begins, because Republicans and Democrats have voiced very different agendas in regards to immigration.  But Obama and the Department of Justice felt that as long as the executive order made temporary changes to the way the law was being implemented, then the order was legal.  The next president can end the program for sure, but it will be extremely unpopular,  after granting deferred deportation to millions of people.  It will be like they came out of hiding, just to get caught again.

There are a number of legal issues before the court.  The authority to deport someone is with the INS, hence the executive branch has discretion to a certain extent.  But the lawsuits against the program argue that this should be done on a case by case basis, rather than a blanket deferment of a select group of illegals.  Another issue is whether the executive order is really a INS rule, in which case there is a lengthy process of hearings required as part of the rule making procedures.  An argument in favor of the executive order is that Congress did not budget enough money for the deportation of approximately 11 million illegals, so it forces the INS into selective enforcement.

The internet is filled with articles on deferred deportation.  For this reason, I have not included any links in this blog.

Supreme Court observers expect a close decision.   Liberals on the Court may see the executive order as a workable solution to a conflicting mess (lots of laws requiring deportation, little money to do it) made by Congress, while conservatives may see Obama as doing an end run around Congress.

The case belongs in the Supreme Court.  Exactly how much authority the executive branch of our government has, is a constitutional question, not to be answered by Congress, nor political candidates,   nor the media,  but in our highest court.

Stay tuned,

Dave