Illegal border crossings plateau in November

Illegal border crossings remained at roughly the same levels in November from a month before, marking a relatively high but stagnant trend.
 
Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the agency in charge of border security, released its November statistics Thursday.
 
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According to CBP, 51,856 people were apprehended illegally crossing the border with Mexico, and a further 10,600 people were turned away by CBP officers at ports of entry.

Those numbers are statistically identical to October's 51,001 apprehensions and 9,771 inadmissibles.

Still, among the last six years, only fiscal 2017 has produced higher illegal immigration numbers in October and November.

“The November 2018 border numbers are the predictable result of a broken immigration system – including flawed judicial rulings - that usurps the will of the American people who have repeatedly demanded secure borders," said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokeswoman Katie Waldman.

November's 62,456 apprehensions and inadmissibles stand in contrast to fiscal 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018, when those numbers fluctuated between 33,032 and 48,742.

Border crossing attempts plummeted when President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE took office in January 2017, but gradually returned to more or less average historical seasonal patterns.

Border apprehension and inadmissibility numbers are generally used as benchmarks for measuring illegal immigration into the U.S., since successful attempts to sneak past the border generally remain anonymous.

But border security measures have increased the proportion of illegal entry attempts intercepted by U.S. authorities, contributing to a reduction in the population of immigrants without legal status.

A recent Pew study estimated that the population of immigrants without legal status is, at 10.7 million as of 2016, at its lowest since 2004.

And according to DHS numbers, 98 percent of all immigrants without legal status encountered by authorities in fiscal 2018 were apprehended at the border, suggesting few are successfully sneaking into the United States.

Still, the population of such immigrants who are originally from Central America has grown — in contrast to decreases in Mexican and Asian populations — and migrant caravans from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have drawn attention to emigration from that region.

Pew estimates that the population of Central American immigrants without legal status in the United States grew from around 1.5 million in 2007 to 1.85 million in 2016.

And Central American migrants traveling through Mexico are increasingly requesting asylum in the United States.

That's put them at loggerheads with Trump administration officials, who claim most of those migrants are merely economic migrants — rather than asylum seekers fleeing persecution — making them legally ineligible to apply for asylum.

Trump last month signed an executive order banning people who've entered the country illegally from applying for asylum, a measure that's been put on hold by court injunctions.

"To address the obvious crisis at our border, the President has recently deployed the military and signed a new measure that, in conjunction with a joint [Department of Justice] regulation, makes illegal border crossers ineligible for asylum," said Waldman.

"Unfortunately, individual district court judges in separate immigration rulings have given another free pass to illegal aliens to violate our laws," she added.

DHS does not keep a tally of how many illegal border-crossers request asylum, but only 9 percent of people who initially request the benefit are ultimately approved by a judge.

But courts have so far maintained the traditional interpretation of asylum law: that any foreign national on U.S. soil has a right to request asylum.

Administration officials, ahead of a funding fight where Trump's proposed border wall is in jeopardy, have made clear their distaste for that interpretation.

“The President has made it clear: these violations of law will not stand. We will enforce our laws to the maximum extent possible. Our country cannot afford unchecked, undemocratic mass migration policies written by activist judges," said Waldman.