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Today, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will travel to the southwestern border, where he will undoubtedly claim that the Trump Administration deserves credit for the decline in apprehensions at the southern border during March. Don’t believe the hype.
Recent monthly ups and downs don’t capture the real story. The reduction in border apprehensions is a long-term trend. As the below chart, courtesy of Politico Pro, shows, border apprehensions have been trending downward for years. They are at 40 year lows, something that happened before Trump took office, and began during the Clinton Administration.
While Trump claims, “We inherited a full-fledged border crisis. It was a disaster,” the facts don’t match the spin. For years, especially during the Obama presidency, the right-wing media has trumpeted the “border is out of control” meme. This has been aided and abetted by an increasingly anti-immigrant GOP. For example, just six months, ago, a Senator by the name of Jeff Sessions issued a “critical alert”, stating: “There is a crisis at our southwest border, one that in many ways exceeds the crisis we saw just two years ago, one that further undermines the integrity of our immigration system, but one that the most of the media has elected to ignore.”
Here are the facts: The border is more secure than it has ever been; border apprehensions at an all-time low; net migration from Mexico at zero; and crime rates along the southwest border the lowest in the United States; and, over the last 15 years, while other government agencies have faced cutbacks, Congress and the executive branch chose to build our U.S. Border Patrol to an unprecedented level in resources. And all of this was true before Trump was inaugurated.
Also expect AG Sessions to tout a similar line as DHS Secretary General John Kelly, who used an appearance before a Senate committee last week to say that the low numbers of border apprehensions, “won’t last … unless we do something, again, to secure the border.” We suspect that Sessions will use today to build support for the ridiculous border wall and to cast all immigrants as criminals. Yet the fact that the border is more secure and has more resources than ever actually makes the opposite case and reminds us that the costly, ridiculous, and unpopular Trump border wall is wholly and completely unnecessary. And the fact that immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, commit far fewer crimes than the native-born reveals that this Administration is using lies and distortions to justify a mass deportation strategy – one that, if successful, will go down as one of America’s darkest chapters.