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To justify the partial government shutdown, Republicans have argued that America’s southern border is in desperate need of reinforcement.
Some federal employees have been prevented from working or have worked without pay since the shutdown started in December, when Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House. As part of negotiations to reopen the government, President Donald Trump has requested $5.7 billion for his wall project along the southern border.
Trump and other Republicans, including Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina, have characterized the issue as a humanitarian crisis. In a tweet on Jan. 9 and his newsletter on Jan. 11, Budd said many migrants are being exploited.
"We have a crisis at our border with 2,000 inadmissible migrants arriving every day," he also said.
Is it true that 2,000 "inadmissible" migrants arrive every day at the southern border?
PolitiFact NC looked at data provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP), which operates under the Department of Homeland Security. It turns out the word "inadmissible" has a very specific meaning in the Customs and Border Protection agency.
"Inadmissible" migrants are those who are turned away by border agents at ports of entry for any of a variety of reasons (such as lacking the proper paperwork).
The agency also tracks "apprehensions," which refers to unauthorized migrants taken into custody between ports of entry.
Turns out, Budd’s claim is true only if readers group together "inadmissible" and "apprehended" migrants (which they’re likely to do, since most are unfamiliar with government lingo), and if the daily average is measured using a specific time frame.
Let’s look at how Budd is way off if we look exclusively at inadmissible migrants.
In fiscal year 2018, from October 2017 to September 2018, 124,511 inadmissiblemigrants tried to enter the U.S. along the southwest border. That’s about 341 people per day.
Budd’s claim remains off if we look at the rest of calendar year 2018. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) counted 9,771 inadmissible migrants in October, 10,600 in November, and 10,029 in December.
That totals 30,400 inadmissible migrants over 92 days, which averages out to about 330 per day. That’s nowhere near the 2,000 figure Budd mentioned in his newsletter.
Now let’s look at what happens when we conflate inadmissible migrants with those who were apprehended.
2018 inadmissible and apprehended migrants
CBP counted a combined 521,090 inadmissible and apprehended migrants in fiscal year 2018 (October 2017 through September 2018) which equates to 1,428 per day.
What about calendar year 2018? By our calculations, an average of 1,618 people per day were either apprehended or denied entry by border agents in 2018.
A Jan. 9 tweet by Congressman Ted Budd.
Congressman Ted Budd’s Jan. 11 email newsletter.,
Email correspondence with Katie Waldman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Email correspondence with Jessica Bolter, research assistant at the Migration Policy Institute.
Press release, "DHS releases southwest border enforcement statistics," posted online on Jan. 9, 2019.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, "CBP Southwest Border and Claims of Credible Fear Total Apprehensions/Inadmissibles (FY2017 - FY2018)," posted on the agency’s website.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection chart showing "Southwest Border Migration" for fiscal year 2014 through fiscal year 2019.
Story by the Washington Post, "Republicans spent two years resisting Trump’s border wall. What changed?" published Jan. 15, 2019.
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