According to President Donald Trump’s telling, there is a crisis of illegal immigration at the southern U.S. border, painted as an influx of dangerous people and illicit drugs.
But the data tell a different story than the one Trump is using to beef up support for his long-promised border wall: Since the peak in 2000, apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have fallen 76 percent.
FactCheck.org notes that illegal crossings are difficult to track, but the federal government is able to monitor the situation by the number of apprehensions. This data is kept by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.
Under the Obama administration, the yearly apprehensions on the Southwest border declined by 35 percent from calendar year 2008, the year before President Obama took office, through the end of 2016. In President Donald Trump’s first full year in office, the apprehensions declined by 43 percent, from calendar year 2016 to 2017.
On a monthly basis, the apprehensions decreased significantly during the first six months of Trump’s tenure and then began to rise. The number was actually higher in November (the most recent month for which the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has published figures) than it was when Trump was sworn in.
Trump’s insistence that a crisis exists at the southern border simply is not backed up by his own government’s data.