Border apprehensions plummet to near zero amid pandemic

Border apprehensions plummet to near zero amid pandemic
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The Border Patrol apprehended 98.5 percent fewer people crossing into the United States without authorization in April than it did a year prior as the coronavirus pandemic shut down large parts of the United States, Mexico and their mutual border.

According to preliminary Customs and Border Protection numbers reviewed by The Hill, the Border Patrol apprehended 1,420 people between April 1 and April 29 at the southwest border, compared with 94,423 in April of 2019.

Apprehensions also dropped 95 percent on a month-to-month basis, from 29,953 in March.

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The United States and Mexico on March 21 agreed to close the border to authorized nonessential travel, but the numbers show illegal crossings have also taken a deep plunge.

Proportionately, the demographics of people crossing illegally have changed, as Mexican nationals accounted for 34 percent of all illegal crossing attempts in April, while people of other citizenships — known as "other than Mexican" or OTMs to the Border Patrol — accounted for 66 percent.

In April 2019, only 17 percent of those apprehended were Mexicans, while 83 percent were OTMs.

That translates to a 98.8 percent yearly drop in OTM apprehensions, with 942 in April compared with 78,638 a year prior.

Similarly, apprehensions of undocumented minors dropped 98.2 percent, to 150 last month from 8,491 in April 2019. 

The apprehension numbers are by far the lowest monthly numbers this century. Since 2000, the previous lowest record for apprehensions at the southwest border was 11,127 in April 2017.

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Except for six months in 2017, as President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE's border policies first fell into place, there had not been any 30-day span with fewer than 20,000 border apprehensions since 2000.

Southwest border apprehensions in fiscal 2020 had hovered around 30,000 per month from October to March.

The numbers reviewed by The Hill do not include what's known as Title 42 expulsions, the removal of immigrants pursuant to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order on the basis of potential COVID-19 contagion.

In March, Title 42 expulsions accounted for 6,306 of the 29,953 apprehensions at the southwest border.

It's yet unclear whether the number of Title 42 expulsions grew significantly in April. 

A Customs and Border Protection representative told The Hill that official Title 42 numbers will be released Thursday.