U.S. Customs and Border Protection released the agency’s May 2019 migration statistics today, which indicate that fiscal year to date (FYTD) enforcement actions on the Southwest border reached 676,315, up 99 percent over last year at this time.
Total apprehensions on the Southwest border by the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) reached 593,507. In the previous seven years, the highest fiscal year total of apprehensions was 479, 371 in 2014 – which U.S. Border Patrol has already exceeded by 24 percent through May of this year.
“We are experiencing a system-wide emergency that is severely impacting our workforce, facilities and resources,” said Acting CBP Commissioner John P. Sanders.
In May, USBP made 132,887 apprehensions on the Southwest border. The previous high total of apprehensions on the Southwest border for May over the past seven years was 60,683, occurring in 2014, which is less than half of this May’s apprehensions. CBP has seen an increase in all key areas of apprehension at and between ports of entry, including Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC); Family Units (FUA); and Single Adults.
While each key category has seen an increase, the percentage of UAC and Family Units also continues to rise. UACs and FUAs represent 66 percent of all Southwest border apprehensions for FYTD 2019. For the month of May, they represented 72 percent of all Southwest border apprehensions.
The migrants are mainly coming from the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) and Mexico. 78 percent of the Southwest border apprehensions in May came from the Northern Triangle. If Mexico is added, the Northern Triangle and Mexico account for 91 percent of all apprehensions on the Southwest border.
Many of these apprehensions are large groups. USBP defines a large group as any group consisting of more than 100 people. In FY 2017, USBP encountered two such groups. The number grew to 13 groups in FY 2018. USBP has already encountered over 180 large groups this fiscal year. The two largest groups ever encountered by USBP were apprehended in May, groups of more than 400 and 1,000 people.
The impacts of the crisis to legitimate trade and travel cannot be overstated. CBP has moved over 1,000 Agents and CBP Officers (roughly five percent of its workforce) from ports of entry to assist USBP with processing the surge of migrants being apprehended. The reassignment of officers from the ports of entry to the USBP facilities comes with consequences. Pedestrian, passenger vehicle, and commercial trucks trying to cross the border are experiencing uncharacteristically long delays. Some ports of entry have been forced to close some travel lanes and curtail some weekend cargo processing hours.