Border apprehensions remain static for third straight month

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported Wednesday it captured or turned away 60,782 people at the southern border in December, almost the same monthly figures as posted in October and November.

The Border Patrol apprehended 50,753 people who crossed the border illegally in December. In November, the Border patrol apprehended 51,856 people, and in October, 51,001 were apprehended.

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A further 10,029 people were deemed inadmissible at ports of entry in December, compared with 10,600 in November and 9,771 in October.

Those numbers are on the high end of five-year averages, with the exception on 2017, a year that saw a sharp drop in illegal immigration, but much lower than the historical high of 161,973 apprehensions in March 2006.

DHS did not publish the numbers on its usual website because of the partial government shutdown that has been ongoing since Dec. 22.

According to department statistics, more than half of those apprehended or turned away at the border in December — 31,901 — were either unaccompanied minors or migrants traveling in family groups.

December was the third month in history in which family unit and minor apprehensions outnumbered single adult apprehensions, according to DHS.

The origin of migrants has also shifted from historical patterns, with migrants from Guatemala outnumbering Mexicans for the third straight month and Hondurans outnumbering Mexicans for the second straight month.

Those changes are consistent with overall long-term patterns.

For instance, the Mexican undocumented population has been decreasing since 2007, while the undocumented population from other countries has remained more or less stable, according to the Pew Research Center.

A slew of crises in the Northern Triangle of Central America — Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — has precipitated out-migration from those countries over the past few years.

Many migrants leaving those countries have opted to travel to the United States in so-called caravans, avoiding to an extent the hefty fees charged to individual travelers by human smugglers, while finding safety in numbers and a degree of international visibility.

The Trump administration has labeled the migration from the Northern Triangle "a humanitarian and national security crisis," and called for construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.