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Almost 400,000 apprehensions in FY18

December 20, 2018

Some 396,600 foreigners were apprehended just inside US borders in FY18, up from 304,000 in FY17. These apprehensions included 107,200 parents with children under 18 and 50,000 unaccompanied minors. Apprehensions in the first months of FY19 averaged 50,000 a month, suggesting annual total of 500,000 or more.

The long term trend in apprehensions is downward. After peaking at over 1.6 million in FY86 and again in FY00, apprehensions of foreigners just inside US borders fell to less than 500,000 a year after the 2008-09 recession.

Apprenhensions of foreigners just inside the US border have been below 500,000 a year since 2008

Source: CBP Enforcement Statistics

Looking at the month of March, apprehensions dropped from 220,000 in March 2000 to less than 40,000 in March 2018, although 2018 numbers were up from a year earlier. In FY17, over 42 percent of those apprehended were Mexicans, followed by 22 percent Hondurans and 16 percent each from El Salvador and Guatemala.

March apprenhensions rose from 12,000 in March 2017 to 37,400 in March 2018

Source: CBP Enforcement Statistics

More of the foreigners apprehended just inside US borders are asking for asylum in the US. Border Patrol agents ask migrants who want to request asylum four questions:

  • Why did you leave your home or country of last residence?
  • Do you have any fear or concern about being returned to your home country or being removedĀ from the United States?
  • Would you be harmed if you are returned to your home country or country of last residence?
  • Do you have any questions or is there anything else you would like to add?

If the foreigner expresses fear of returning to his/her country in answering these four questions, he/she is referred to a USCIS asylum officer for a credible fear interview. About 13 percent of those apprehended in FY17, and 18 percent of those apprehended in FY18, expressed credible fear of persecution at home.

Foreigners can also appear at a port of entry and ask for asylum by expressing credible fear, the “legal way” to apply for asylum. In CBP data, these foreigners are deemed inadmissible to the US, but gain admission if they pass a credible fear interview with a USCIS asylum officer. In FY17, about 16 percent of the 111,300 inadmissible aliens at ports of entry on the Mexico-US border claimed credible fear. In FY18, 31 percent of 124,500 inadmissible aliens claimed credible fear.