Yes, there were more overall apprehensions in the 2000s. But it was a different population, made up overwhelmingly of adult males from Mexico who might be apprehended trying to cross multiple times and were reliably returned home when they were caught. Now, we are apprehending people but not returning them.
Migrants are coming in greater numbers from Central American countries instead of Mexico, and are primarily families and children. In an astonishing shift, in 2012, 10 percent of apprehended migrants were families and children; in recent months, it’s been 61 percent.
The rules for dealing with migrants from noncontiguous countries and with family units make it all but impossible to swiftly return or detain them, not to mention that our physical facilities were built with single adults in mind.
There is no mechanism to return these migrants home, to hold them after they cross the border, or to remove them once they are in the interior.