Past Features

December 16, 2017

Climbing the fence, or
gaming the system?

Mercury News / AP -- December 15, 2017  
Border arrests surge, erasing much of Trump's early gains  
    San Diego -- The U.S. government on Friday announced a seventh straight monthly increase in people being arrested or denied entry along the Mexican border, erasing much of the early gains of President Donald Trump's push to tighten the border.
    Denials of entry for people at official crossings and border arrests reached 39,006 in November, up 12 percent from 34,855 in October and more than double the 15,766 who were stopped or arrested in April. But November's figure was still down 38 percent from 63,361 for November of 2016, shortly before Trump took office.
    Border arrests don't capture how many people got away from agents but are widely used to understand trends in how many attempt to enter the country illegally.
    Trump touted the dramatic decline in arrests during the early months of his presidency as evidence that his administration was making the border more secure. Reasons for the drop and recent rise are unclear but Trump's pledge to build a wall with Mexico may have initially discouraged people from trying and now be having less impact.
    Administration officials said last week that they were concerned about an increase in families and unaccompanied children showing up at the U.S. border with Mexico. Customs and Border Protection asked for changes to a 2008 law that gave new protections to children entering the country who are not from Canada or Mexico and prevents them from quickly being sent home.

Washington Examiner-- December 16, 2017
There's been a staggering increase in child, family apprehensions at the border  
    The number of families arrested at the Southwest border rose dramatically between October and November of this year, according to new data that has immigration experts wondering if previous levels of illegal immigration are destined to return.
    Numbers released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Friday show immigration officials apprehended just over 7,000 family units --- consisting of at least one adult and one child --- at the border last month, compared to 4,839 in October. That 45 percent increase accompanied a 26 percent surge in child migrant apprehensions, from 3,168 to 4,000 over the same one-month span. [...]   
    "The Trump administration has restored tough enforcement and consequences for regular adult illegal immigrants but for these specific cases, in which young people and families are arriving, they have not found their way around the court restrictions," said Jessica Vaughn, director of policies studies at the Center for Immigration Reform, a conservative think tank based in Washington., D.C.
    When human smugglers in Central America receive word that many illegal immigrants are still being released by border patrol officials, “they will take full advantage of that,” Vaughn told the Washington Examiner.
    Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, was reluctant to attribute the soaring number of apprehensions to the survival of catch-and-release policies.
    "You'd probably have to ask Customs and Border Protection why they're seeing this difference. What we have heard is that catch-and-release is returning, or it never really went away, but I'm not sure why that would explain this," Mehlman told the Washington Examiner.