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At the US-Mexico Border, Apprehensions Have Been Declining for Years

As the rhetoric around immigration reform gets heated in Washington, you’d be forgiven for thinking that hordes of migrants were invading the United States. Yet, a study by the Congressional Research Service finds that border apprehensions have actually been declining since 2000*. The results of this report show that in 2000 about 1.6 million people were apprehended at the border; whereas, in 2013 there were only 420,000 apprehensions. Much of this decline occurred after in 2005, when apprehensions dropped 8% between 2005 and 2006. Apprehensions continued to decline rapidly in the following years, dropping an average of 14% per year between 2006 and 2011.

Since 2011, there has been a 26% increase in the number of border apprehensions. However that is still significantly less than the 1.6 million apprehensions recorded in 2000, so overall, apprehensions are still down. Apprehensions of immigrants of all nationalities along the border have declined, but the greatest drop is seen among Mexican nationals.

The decline in border apprehensions can be chalked up to many factors, one of which is the economic recession in the United States, which has meant that fewer migrants were crossing the border to look for work. Another possibility is that heightened border enforcement of “illegal inflows” and the rise in deportations has deterred migrants from attempting to cross the border. The significance of each of these factors is still up for debate.

For more information and specifics on the decline in apprehensions at the border, read the whole report here.

*Fiscal Years Source: Lisa Seghetti and David Durak. “Apprehensions of Unauthorized Migrants along the Southwest Border: Fact Sheet”. Congressional Research Service. May 2, 2014. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R43523.pdf