Immigration by the numbers: DHS has no idea how many people are entering illegally. By Nolan Rappaport

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Border agents apprehended 132,887people trying to cross the Southwest border in May, a 13-year high, and many of the migrants were asylum seekers. The increased flow across the border has overwhelmed our asylum system. It has become so difficult to get an asylum application processed in the United States that some migrants are giving up and applying for asylum in Mexico.

But the Southwest border is only 1,954 mileslong, less than two percent of the 101,471-mile border around the United States (6,000 miles of land borders and 95,471 miles of coastline borders).

And DHS seems to have concentrated its resources on the Southwest border. In fiscal 2017, there were 461,540 apprehensions, but only 3,027 of them were at the northern border and only 3,588 at coastal borders.

Congress, however, apparently wants DHS to patrol the entire border — all 101,471 miles of it.

Section 1092 in the Fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the DHS Secretary to provide congress with annual metrics reports on securing the border between all of the ports of entry along the perimeter of the United States.

The report must include the percentage of the illegal crossers who were apprehended, how many undetected illegal crossings occurred, how many migrants succeeded in making an illegal crossing but went back to Mexico right away, and how many were detected but able to get away without being apprehended.


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @NolanR1