November 25, 2019 3:21PM

Criminal Apprehensions Fell Precipitously Along the Border in 2019

Customs and Border Protection apprehended 1,148,024 people during Fiscal Year 2019. Border Patrol apprehended 75 percent of them while CBP officers apprehended the remaining quarter. The number of people CBP apprehended was up 68 percent over 2018, but the number of criminals arrested in 2019 was only up about 15 percent over the previous year. As a result, criminal apprehensions in 2019 comprised the smallest share of all apprehensions since 2015, when publicly available data were first published online (Figure 1). We only have data for the first month of the 2020 fiscal year, so those numbers are included even though this post will not draw conclusions about 2020 from a single month of data.

Figure 1

CBP Apprehensions by Criminal Status, 2015-2020

crimegif3

Source: CBP

Note: 2020 data is for the first month of that fiscal year.

The number of people apprehended by Border Patrol was up 112 percent from 2018 to 2019, from 404,142 to 859,501. Although the number of Border Patrol apprehensions more than doubled, the number of criminals apprehended rose by just 2.1 percent. Border Patrol separately recorded the number of convictions of those it apprehended in each year by crime (Table 1). The number of convictions is different from the number of criminals, as one criminal could have multiple convictions. In 2019, the number of criminal convictions spread among those apprehended criminals dropped by 31 percent. The number of criminal convictions among those criminals apprehended is lower for every crime except for Illegal Weapons Possession, Transport, Trafficking. This occurred while the number of apprehensions doubled.

Table 1

Border Patrol Criminal Alien Statistics, 2015-2019

Crime

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2015-2019

Assault, Battery, Domestic Violence

1,751

1,007

692

524

299

4,273

Burglary, Robbery, Larceny, Theft, Fraud

1,486

825

595

347

184

3,437

Driving Under the Influence

3,459

2,458

1,596

1,113

614

9,240

Homicide, Manslaughter

12

8

3

3

2

28

Illegal Drug Possession, Trafficking

3,359

1,797

1,249

871

449

7,725

Illegal Entry, Re-Entry

9,614

7,060

4,502

3,920

2,663

27,759

Illegal Weapons Possession, Transport, Trafficking

406

237

173

106

666

1,588

Sexual Offenses

312

155

137

80

58

742

Other

3,604

2,544

1,851

1,364

814

10,177

All Convictions

24,003

16,091

10,798

8,328

5,749

64,969

All Border Patrol Apprehensions

337,117

415,816

310,531

404,142

859,501

2,327,107

Source: CBP.

There were only two convictions for homicide and manslaughter among the 859,501 Border Patrol apprehended in 2019. That is the stock of convictions for homicide and manslaughter. Even if it was the number of new convictions in 2019, it would be shockingly low.

Perhaps Border Patrol agents apprehended fewer criminals in 2019 because they were diverted to processing asylum claims, leaving fewer agents available to patrol the border which allowed more criminal aliens to evade detection. Thus, the observed falling numbers of criminal aliens apprehended could arise from a lack of detection rather than fewer criminals trying to enter. The number of single adults apprehended in recent years is evidence against that theory. They are the most likely to be criminals. However, the number of single adults apprehended by Border Patrol has risen over the years and the number apprehended by CBP Officers at ports of entry has only dropped slightly. This isn’t a slam dunk response but merely evidence against the theory that Border Patrol is distracted by asylum seekers while criminals are entering undetected.