Something funny begins to happen when our government finally enforces some of our laws and sovereignty. According to weekly data from Texas’ Department of Public Safety used internally by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and obtained by CR, 9,407 illegal aliens were apprehended during the first week of August in Texas, a 54 percent decline since the highest weekly rate of May and June. Even more enforcement would likely result in an even sharper decline.
Where the numbers stand today
According to the data, which was given to CR by a Border Patrol agent who must remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the press, the Texas numbers averaged around 18,000-20,000 per week in May and early June. Then when the president began beefing up the “remain in Mexico” policy, the weekly numbers declined to about 13,000-14,000 during late June and throughout July. Then, just from the final week in July to the first week in August, after the president announced the “safe third country” asylum deal with Guatemala, the numbers dropped 27 percent to under 10,000 for the first time since early in the year.
Although these numbers are only from Texas, the Lone Star State has absorbed about 70 percent of the border flow, and the June numbers from CBP show that apprehensions in Arizona and California have declined even more dramatically. The Rio Grande Valley is still, by far, the worst area of the border, but those numbers are also declining.
Three factors – the “remain in Mexico” policy (expanded to RGV sector July 19), denying asylum to anyone who could have declared asylum in Mexico (announced July 15), and the agreement with Guatemala to serve as a safe third country (announced July 26) – have collectively sent the message to migrants that the days of de facto open borders might be over. Before those elements were in place, the decline resulting from Mexico’s enforcement actions was not that significant.
The important lesson here is for the president to double down on what’s working and turn back everyone at the border rather than just relying on the hype of what he might do. As Rep. Chip Roy reported:
From source on border: “Our numbers have tanked this month so far. Extremely low. In talking to folks inside Mexico… this can’t be attributed to Mx actions only because ‘Mx really isn’t doing much’ – just the ‘hype’ that so much is being done is actually deterring folks.” (1/2)
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) August 18, 2019
“But as in the past… once the people realize it’s more ‘hype’ than actual actions… Numbers always rise again.” #StateOfOurBorder (2/2)
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) August 18, 2019
The key word is “hype.” When our open border was being hyped to the world since spring of 2018 and following several California judicial rulings, the world began to migrate to the border. Now the hype is reversing. This time, the president would be wise to learn from the past.
Putting the numbers in context
A flow of 9,400 per week for Texas is still high. That’s almost a half a million people per year just for Texas, well above the levels during most of Obama’s presidency. For example, in December 2016, the final full month of Obama’s presidency, the numbers were averaging under 30,000 per month in Texas. Today, even with an endless, brutal heat wave at the border and in Mexico, we are still averaging about 40,000 per month.
Trump promised to do better than Obama on illegal immigration and begin to reform even legal immigration and other bad policies, such as unqualified birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens. For the beginning months of his presidency, the hype that he would lock down the border had its effect on the perception of potential illegal immigrants. Just 11,000 people were apprehended at the entire border during April 2017, the low point of the “Trump hype” during the early part of his presidency.
However, as we all remember, the hype started to wear off after people realized that it was just that: only hype. Then, once the courts got involved and the administration refused to issue a shutoff at our border, the wave rose for nearly two years, cresting over this past spring and early summer. Thus, there is still a lot of work to do just to get back what the levels were when the entire MAGA movement began.
The good news is that, of all sources, the Ninth Circuit just handed the president a tremendous opportunity. For unknown reasons, this administration continues to decline a categorical 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) shutoff of all requests at the border. However, it recently declared that all asylum requests of anyone who could have declared asylum in Mexico will be denied. Well, that should apply to pretty much everyone at the border, except for Mexicans. While a California judge lawlessly issued a nationwide injunction on the policy late last week, the Ninth Circuit finally came to terms with the fact that it lacks jurisdiction over New Mexico (Tenth Circuit) and Texas (Fifth Circuit).
The DHS needs to take yes for an answer and begin turning back every single individual in those two states. It should not process anyone except those who are to be charged with crimes. That would take the hype to the next level of reality. In July, 82 percent of overall apprehensions and 90 percent of family unit apprehensions were in those states outside the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, mainly in Texas.
Moreover, there are several other ideas left on the list from my “Deter, Defend, Demagnetize” plan for this administration to implement. The most important additional element is to designate the cartels as terrorists and more aggressively use the military to counter them. It’s been over a week since assailants shot over 50 rounds into our patrol boats in what should have been regarded as an act of war. Yet there is no response from our government.
It’s frustrating that it has taken this long for the administration to take these steps. The good news is that it’s better late than never, and the trajectory is headed in a better direction. The president selected two strong leaders in Mark Morgan (CBP) and Ken Cuccinelli (USCIS) to head two of the most important agencies charged with managing the border. It would be great if he could take this to the next step and replace Kevin McAleenan as head of the DHS.
As the summer turns into fall and the temperatures begin to drop and become more comfortable for mass migration, Trump must double down on sovereignty and turn up the heat if he hopes to keep his campaign promises alive.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.