Border apprehensions were up slightly in April (what will the total be this year?) (Update)

The April border apprehension numbers were finally revealed today and were about what was expected, i.e. slightly higher than March numbers.

More than 178,000 immigrants were stopped at the southwest border in April, marking a 21-year high in monthly apprehensions, while the number of migrant children crossing the border without their parents fell by 12 percent, according to new numbers published Tuesday by Customs and Border Protection.

The number of monthly encounters was up slightly from March, in which Customs and Border Protection encountered just over 173,000 immigrants crossing into the United States from the border with Mexico.

The 21-year high was driven mainly by single adults attempting to cross the border illegally, according to CBP data, the vast majority of which were expelled.

There are a couple of caveats to these numbers. The first is that many of the people apprehended trying to come across last month (about 40%) are migrants who’ve already tried to cross the border and been sent back under Title 42. The advantage of Title 42 is that it’s fast and doesn’t use up a lot of CBP resources. The disadvantage is that there’s no penalty for making multiple attempts to illegally cross the border. So that’s what we’re seeing happen.

The other caveat is that a very large number of people who try to get across are making it. According to this local news report from Tucson, the number of “got aways” so far this year is larger than the total apprehensions last month:

These are the latest numbers according to Art Del Cueto, who is vice president of the National Border Patrol Union.

Pima County shares about 126 miles of border with Mexico. In the Tucson sector, Del Cueto said, “We’re at 186,000 and 68,000 for the Tucson sector alone as of today for this fiscal year.”…

“You need to be aware there is a humongous group of individuals that are entering our country that are not being detected,” Del Cueto said.

So on the one hand, the repeat crossers are inflating the apprehensions numbers. On the other hand, the fact that CBP is overwhelmed means a huge number of people are crossing without being stopped.

We’re now 7 months into FY21 and total apprehensions thus far are at 749,613. May is typically the peak of the seasonal wave so you’d expect to see numbers similar to or higher than last month, though that could be offset this year because Mexico is making efforts to limit people crossing its southern border.

As we enter the hot summer months, the numbers should taper off significantly. However, given where we’re at now, FY21 is likely to end with the highest number of apprehensions since 2001 and maybe even since the peak of 1.6 million in 2000, which is the highest total since 1960. We’ll have a better idea when we seen the May numbers but for now it’s looking like a record setting year.

Update: Sen. Cruz says we’re on a path to 2 million this year. I don’t think that’s possible at this point. My own guess is we’re headed for something around 1.2 to 1.3 million this fiscal year which would still be one of the top 10 years in the past 60.