In his letter this week to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen accepting federal dollars to deploy up to 400 National Guard troops to the border, California Gov. Jerry Brown could not resist a snarky addendum.
He’d take the money, but insisted that “there is no massive wave of migrants pouring into California,” he said, adding that overall immigrant apprehensions “were as low as they’ve been in nearly 50 years.”
A group of Democratic House members made the similar (and familiar) argument in another letter to Mattis and Nielsen.
“We require a clearer explanation of the impetus for this approach at a time when border crossings are at a 40-year low,” demanded the lawmakers in their April 11 letter.
The “there is no crisis” mantra is a convenient, yet grossly inaccurate and misleading talking point of those who feign commitment to border security without committing to implementing the policies to achieve secure borders.
Are these the border crisis deniers wrong about an actual decline in the number of border apprehensions in California and nationwide? Yes.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the number of apprehensions along at the border and other ports of entry declined after October 2016 when 66,712 illegal immigrants were stopped from entering the U.S. That decline continued after President Trump was elected, but then it began to increase in May 2017. Between May and December 2017, the number rose from 19,940 to 40,511.
And the numbers are continuing to increase. According to data released this week, the Border Patrol apprehended 37,393 individuals in March – a 203 percent increase over March 2017, and a 37 percent increase from February (26,663).
The 2014 crisis of thousands of Central Americans flooding our borders occurred precisely because the Obama administration failed to act with urgency and immediacy – which is the exact reason why the Trump administration wants to send National Guard troops to free up border agents to address the crisis.
Numbers do not tell the full story that the Border Patrol lives every day. Along with a renewed surge of economic migrants entering illegally, there has been an uptick criminal activity along the border:
- Colonel Steven McCraw, director of Texas Department of Public Safety, told a House committee on April 12 that his state troopers have seized in the last few months an amount of fentanyl that is equivalent to nearly 12 million lethal doses;
- On April 6, CPB arrested several individuals with more than $3.1 million of narcotics;
- An MS-13 gang member was found hiding among Central Americans claiming asylum;
- A mother and her five kids were caught trying to smuggle 231 pound of drugs into the U.S. on April;
- And, a CPB agent rescued two illegal immigrants abandoned by a smuggler.