“The crisis is over,” says analyst Steven Kopits of the conservative think tank Princeton Policy Advisors in a report issued on October 29.
Analyzing the latest CBP figures for fiscal year 2019, Kopits argues that although the Border Patrol apprehended 40,507 persons at the southwest border in September, that figure represents a decline of 20 percent from the previous month and was the lowest level in a year. “Of particular interest,” Kopits writes, “apprehensions came in below the level of September 2018, signaling that the surge begun in July 2018 is coming to an end.” Kopits credits President Trump’s policies, in particular his diplomatic negotiations with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries, for “ending” the crisis.
That same day, CBP acting commissioner Mark Morgan declared at a border press conference in El Paso, “The crisis is not over.” Interviewed by Fox News, Morgan said, “Right now, our apprehensions per day are still 1,400. Those numbers are unacceptable.” What’s more, last year at least 150,000 illegal border crossers escaped apprehension and got away completely. While the administration and the CBP have done an “incredible” job, illegal migrants and drugs in huge numbers continue to cross into the U.S., and much more needs to be done to stop the flow.
That includes shutting down loopholes. At his presser, Morgan concluded, in reference to human smugglers’ technique of bringing a minor child along with an adult migrant, “The message that is going out now, for the first time in a long time, is, ‘If you grab a kid, it’s not an automatic passport in the U.S.’”
So, apprehensions of illegal border crossers are going down but they are still at near-record highs. And while the total amount of illegal drugs seized in 2019–750,000 pounds–was less than the prior year, the drop was from a decrease in marijuana hauls. Seizures of the more dangerous drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and fentanyl all increased. Those drugs contributed to the deaths of 68,000 Americans last year.
Is the glass half full or half empty? Perspective is important, but “crisis” or no, the problem of our porous border goes on.