ANALYSIS: Even With Surge in Border Crossings, Trump Continues to Punt on the Border

By Catherine Herridge

President Trump has repeatedly vowed to crack down on illegal immigration, including the threat of using military force.

Since April, U.S. border patrol agents have arrested roughly 64,000 illegal immigrants and arrested more than 5,200 undocumented immigrants caught trying to cross illegally into the United States.

This year through June 14, border patrol agents have apprehended 43,649 immigrants attempting to cross the border illegally.

More than half of the suspects had criminal histories, including murder, rape, kidnapping, child molestation, aggravated assault, and robbery.

Reports of Mexican cartels orchestrating mass migration into the United States from Mexico and Central America have increased as the Mexican government appears powerless to halt illegal immigration.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has stepped up enforcement activities along the southern border, increasing staffing.

The Border Patrol has arrested nearly two-thirds more illegal immigrants in the first half of fiscal year 2018 than it did in the same period in the previous year.

More than 12,000 illegal immigrants have been caught by border patrol agents this year. The vast majority of the undocumented immigrants caught at the southern border are from Mexico, as most criminal immigrants normally come from South America.

The number of people attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally has jumped sharply, up 21 percent. More than 84,000 people were arrested trying to cross the border illegally through May.

The spike in apprehensions is fueling conservative arguments that the Obama administration built up the border to get back at President Trump for his temporary ban on refugees.

A 2011 Rasmussen survey found three-quarters of voters said the Obama administration built up the border to make an example of President Trump.

Not true, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

“DHS has never escalated the cost of performing and protecting the southern border to intentionally manipulate the immigration debate,” DHS officials responded in a series of memos.

The Obama administration was alarmed by the trend of people traveling through Mexico to reach the U.S. border.

Border agents used helicopters to monitor potential interdiction activities, and agents also chased fleeing groups into Mexico and sometimes nabbed people in Mexico.

One Border Patrol agent, Kevin Arthur Steer, said they chased an undocumented immigrant down a freeway and after sighting him coming back, chased him into Mexico.

While President Trump has threatened to use the military to patrol the border, DHS pointed out that various military groups have been stationed at the border before.

Multiple military groups have patrolled the border since the enforcement program “Operation Gatekeeper” launched in 1988.

The operation eventually laid a border at the border using troops as a deterrent against illegal immigration, criminal activity, and drug smuggling. The success of the program is well documented.

The Obama administration scaled back Operation Gatekeeper and shifted funding to beef up border patrol agents. In 2002, the DREAM Act was introduced and the federal government invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the Department of Homeland Security’s border security.

The number of apprehensions of illegal immigrants on the southwest border in fiscal year 2014 was 85,252.

There has been a 31 percent increase in the number of apprehensions in fiscal year 2018. More than 153,000 people have been apprehended.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

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