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Illegal Crossings at the U.S. Mexico Border

National emergency or political pawn?

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  • The U.S.-Mexico border is 1,993 miles long. [Congressional Research Service]

  • Read about the history of the border here.

  • President Trump believes there is a “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border” and believes that a border wall will stop “uncontrolled illegal migration.” [USA Today]

  • The Trump administration requested Congress approve a $5.7 billion budget for a wall. [Vox] The president eventually signed an executive order to use military funding to build the wall. [The Atlantic]



Democrats and Republicans disagree about the facts surrounding illegal immigration and appear to refuse to compromise. The political disagreement over the wall caused the government to shut down for 35 days, leaving 800,000 federal workers without pay. 


If the gridlock in Washington continues, border security will remain unsolved leaving the country vulnerable.




Illegal immigration

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), there were 400,000 illegal immigrants apprehended at the border in 2018. [PBS News Hour] This is similar to the entire population of Minneapolis was trying to enter the U.S. in a year. [Politifact]

“There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016...” [Pew Research Center]





President Trump has stated illegal immigrants bring “tremendous amounts of crime.” [The Washington Post]  In 2018,

From June 1, 2011, to December 31, 2018, 276,000 illegal immigrants were arrested. The most serious offenses include:

System in stress

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan stated at a March 2019 press briefing that the "entire system right now is at full capacity. Actually, it's overwhelmed." [NPR]


It is technically down

According to U.S. CBP, illegal Immigration has decreased, measured by "Monthly Border Crossings":

In 2000, there were 1.6 million apprehensions. CBP found migration patterns have changed. [Customs and Border Protection]




When compared to natural-born U.S. citizens, illegal immigrants are:

  • 25% less likely to be convicted of murder,
  • 11.5% less likely to be convicted of sexual assault, 
  • 79% less likely to be convicted of larceny. [NPR]


According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), most drugs come in through official ports of entry. [PBS News Hour]


This means that a wall would not impactfully reduce drugs entering the U.S.



No real evidence of terror

In 2017, the State Department said, “there was no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have...sent operatives via Mexico into the United States.” [U.S State Department]


  • December 22, 2018: The federal government shut down largely due to border wall funding. The Democrats strongly opposed the shutdown. [Vox]

  • January 19, 2019: President Trump offered 3-year protection for DACA recipients in exchange for wall funding. Democrats rejected it. [The New York Times]

  • President Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S. Mexico border to build a wall.

  • Congress voted down the national emergency. [The Washington Post]

  • President Trump issued a veto to block the termination of the national emergency. This means that funding for a border wall will continue. [Reuters

  • May 2020: President Trump is pushing to paint the border wall black, an estimated $500 million cost. [The Washington Post]


  • Want to help build the wall? Fundraise for politicians with Peeps Democracy.

  • Is there another type of "crisis" occurring at the border? Read more about how the U.S. processes immigrants and asylum seekers at the border, and why some advocates call that the true humanitarian crisis.

  • Will government shutdowns become a thing of the past? Read an opinion here.

  • Watch how a border wall would divide Native American tribe Tohono o'odham.

  • Does a reasonable compromise on border security exist between the two parties?

  • Is a southern border wall the best way to approach illegal immigration? Read an opinion here.

  • Fact check with NPR or BBC.

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