“The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.”
By any available measure, there is no new security crisis at the border.
Apprehensions of people trying to cross the southern border peaked most recently at 1.6 million in 2000 and have been in decline since, falling to just under 400,000 in fiscal 2018. The decline is partly because of technology upgrades, tougher penalties in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a decline in migration rates from Mexico and a sharp increase in the number of Border Patrol officers.
The fiscal 2018 number was up from just over 300,000 apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border for fiscal 2017, the lowest level in more than 45 years.
There are far more cases of travelers overstaying their visas than southern border apprehensions. In fiscal 2017, the Department of Homeland Security reported 606,926 suspected in-country overstays, or twice the number of southern border apprehensions. In fiscal 2016, U.S. officials reported 408,870 southern border apprehensions and 544,676 suspected in-country overstays.
The big issue at the southern border are waves of thousands of Central Americans running from poverty and violence in their home countries and seeking entry to the United States.
But here’s the catch: Any wall would be built a mile or so inland from the border. Many of those attempting to immigrate are Central Americans seeking asylum. To petition for asylum, a person needs to be on U.S. soil under current law. So in theory, immigrants could cross the border and file a legally valid petition for asylum before reaching Trump’s wall. The incentive would still exist, and so would the visa overstays.