Get PolitiFact in your inbox.
If Your Time is short
Southwest border apprehensions in fiscal year 2022 have already hit 1.94 million, the highest number ever reported.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol began tracking apprehensions in 1925.
But Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., glosses past the fact that policies have exacerbated border-crossing attempts by the same individuals.
Immigration has always been at the forefront of U.S. politics — particularly in election years.
In 2022, the focus has been on the long federal court battle surrounding the "Remain in Mexico" policy, instituted by former President Donald Trump, which forced thousands of asylum seekers to wait for court hearings in Mexico, instead of the U.S.
Some argue that has exacerbated the illegal crossings, as there is little drawback to trying again while waiting for a court hearing.
Republicans blame President Joe Biden for the surge.
"With three months remaining in the Fiscal Year, (the border patrol) has already encountered more illegal immigrants along the Southwest border" than in any previous fiscal year.
Is he right?
When we asked Grothman’s office for backup, they pointed to numbers from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Those numbers show that as of July 2022, the number of apprehensions at the southwest border had reached roughly 1.94 million for fiscal year 2022, which won’t end until September.
In April, May and June, apprehensions consistently topped 200,000. July dipped just below that threshold, with 199,976. All of that has carried apprehensions past the previous record, of 1.73 million apprehensions set in 2021.
Indeed, in an Aug. 15, 2022, article, The Wall Street Journal projected a record 2 million by the fiscal year’s close.
There was a similar spike in fiscal year 2000, which reported 1.64 million apprehensions at the border. And the previous high was during Fiscal Year 1986, when apprehensions reached 1.62 million.
The government’s earliest apprehension records date back to 1925.
However, the numbers can be misleading, as noted in a July 18, 2022, article by Cronkite News – Arizona PBS. In it, Jessica Botler with the nonpartisan, independent think tank the Migration Policy Institute, noted that 2 million apprehensions does not equate to 2 million migrants.
Why? Because sometimes it’s the same person attempting to cross multiple times.
In fact, in a July 15, 2022, news release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection covering the June numbers, the federal agency explained: "The large number of expulsions during the pandemic has contributed to a higher-than-usual number of migrants making multiple border crossing attempts, which means that total encounters somewhat overstate the number of unique individuals arriving at the border."
In the same news release, the agency broke down the numbers:
In total, there were 207,416 apprehensions along the southwest border in June.
But of that number, 26% had at least one prior apprehension in the last 12 months.
The number of unique individuals apprehended in June was 153,379.
So, that’s an important caveat to Grothman’s claim.
(Sidenote: That report came out three days before Grothman’s tweet, so this information was available to him)
Grothman claimed: "With three months remaining in the Fiscal Year, (the border patrol) has already encountered more illegal immigrants along the Southwest border" than in any previous fiscal year.
The numbers show Grothman is accurate, but in making a stark point with stark numbers, he skipped past an important nuance.
The "Remain in Mexico" policy has meant more repeat efforts to cross, since under the previous policy asylum-seekers would wait for their court date in the U.S. Thus, that is a key factor in the increase, which overstates the actual number of individuals who were stopped.
Our definition for Mostly True is "The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information."
That fits here.
The Wall Street Journal, Illegal Immigration Arrests Hit Record, Reasons for Border Crossings Changing, Aug. 15, 2022.
Cronkite News - Arizona PBS, June border encounters top 200,000, set record of 1.74 million for year, July 18, 2022.
U.S. Customs and Border Control, Southwest Land Border Encounters stats, Fiscal Years 2019-2022.
U.S. Customs and Border Control, U.S. Border Patrol Monthly Apprehensions, Fiscal Years 2000-2019.
U.S. Customs and Border Control, Nationwide Encounters, Fiscal Years 1925-2020.
U.S. Border Patrol, Southwest Border Sectors Total Illegal Apprehensions by Fiscal Year, Fiscal Years 1960-2018.
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.