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.