- The Customs and Border Protection agency released data showing that its agents arrested just 34,114 people at the border in June – an 18% drop from May.
- It’s unclear exactly what caused the plunge, but CBP noted in a statement that it’s common for agents to make fewer arrests between May and June.
- While President Donald Trump often speaks of a “crisis” in illegal immigration at the border, data shows that border arrests in 2018 are still near the bottom of a yearslong downward trend.
Despite President Donald Trump’s talk of an “illegal immigration crisis” along the United States’ southern border, the number of border-crossing arrests remain at some of the lowest levels in decades.
Trump was reportedly enraged over Customs and Border Protection data showing that some 50,000 people were arrested or deemed inadmissible at the border in each of the three springtime months. In response, his administration in May announced its controversial “zero tolerance” policy that resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents.
But on Thursday, CBP released its much-anticipated arrest numbers for June, showing an 18% drop in arrests from May. Border Patrol agents arrested 34,114 people crossing the border illegally, and denied entry to an additional 8,451 people deemed “inadmissible” at the ports of entry.
It’s unclear exactly what caused the drop – some Trump administration officials had expressed hope that the zero tolerance policy would deter immigrants from crossing the border illegally, but rising summer temperatures may also have played a role in dissuading people from walking long distances in the scorching heat.
CBP noted in a statement that June’s “decline follows the overall downward trend for this time of year.” In four of the previous five years, arrest numbers similarly dropped from May to June, reflecting a seasonal trend.
Here’s what the arrests look like for the fiscal year 2018 so far:
Part of the reason that Trump has fixated so closely on 2018’s arrest numbers is because they have risen dramatically from last year, when he first took office.
In the fiscal year 2017, CBP made just 303,916 arrests at the southern border, with fewer than 20,000 people arrested each month during the spring season.
But FY 2017 was an outlier – not the norm. Annual CBP arrest numbers dating back to the 1970s show that it’s extraordinarily rare to make so few arrests.
The last time CBP arrested fewer than 300,000 immigrants annually was 1971, when CBP employed just a fraction of the roughly 20,000 agents working for Border Patrol today.
Here’s what the annual arrest trends look like, dating back to 2000:
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