President Trump recently said, “Our issue is strong borders, no crime; their issue is open borders, let MS-13 all over our country.” But according to statistics from Border Patrol, the government made arrests of just 275 MS-13 gang members at the border so far in 2018—that’s just 0.11 percent of the 252,187 apprehensions in this year. That’s hardly any different from prior years. Apprehensions of individuals in any gang made up just 0.2 percent of all Border Patrol arrests in 2018, meaning that 99.8 percent of all arrests were not gang members.
The figure below shows the trends in these apprehension figures. 2015 saw the highest share of gang members arrested. However, 2014 saw the highest number at 1,034. MS-13 arrests as a share of all arrests were highest in 2018, but still lower in absolute terms than in 2014.
This picture of enforcement mainly targeting nonviolent people fits with the statistics on enforcement against immigrants inside the United States as well. Other Cato research has demonstrated that illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.