Five Facts on Border Security

Five Facts on Border Security

The Big Insight: The amount of drugs and number of criminals entering the U.S. at the southern border has increased exponentially over the last few years.

Customs and Border Protection reported this week that apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border have topped two million so far in 2022, a record high. Although many of those apprehended pose little threat to U.S. security, the sheer volume of people coming across is making it harder for the U.S. Border Patrol and law enforcement to eliminate the criminal elements and drugs coming across the border.

1. The Border Patrol arrested more than four times as many criminal noncitizens in 2021 as in 2020.

In 2021, Border Patrol arrested 10,763 criminal noncitizens — defined as those convicted of one or more offenses for conduct defined as criminal in the U.S., whether committed here or abroad, prior to interdiction. The total for 2020 was just 2,438, and the 2021 total was the highest since 2016.

The 2021 arrests included 1,178 individuals previously convicted of assault, battery, and/or domestic violence, and 60 convicted of homicide or manslaughter.

2. CBP seized 913,000 pounds of drugs in 2021.

The total included 192,000 pounds of methamphetamine, up 19% from one year earlier. Seizures of fentanyl at the U.S.-Mexico border are also surging, up 4,000% between 2018 and 2021. In just one vehicle stop in August, agents seized 187 pounds of fentanyl worth an estimated $4.3 million.

3. About 253,000 guns purchased in the U.S. are illegally trafficked to Mexico each year.

Mexico has one of the world’s highest rates of gun violence, and has five times as many illegal firearms as legal ones. Six of the world’s seven most violent cities are in Mexico — which is one of the reasons why so many migrants are attempting to come to the U.S. in the first place.

4. Cartels will make $13 billion this year trafficking migrants across the southern border.

This number is up from just $500 million in 2018. The fee to smuggle one person across the border can be as high as $40,000 — six times Mexico’s income per capita.

5. The combined budgets for CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement is up 50% over the past decade.

The two agencies cost taxpayers $28 billion last year, compared to $17.3 billion in 2011. Over the past two decades, the federal government has spent at least $333 billion on agencies that carry out immigration enforcement. The U.S. employs more than 53,000 immigration enforcement and border security personnel. In addition to about 25,000 CBP officers and 8,200 ICE agents, nearly 20,000 Border Patrol officers are devoted strictly to border protection. That number has doubled over the last 20 years.