UPDATE: CBP has updated its February data on March 8, and has reported a 40% decrease, when compared to the January statistics. Read the latest here.

On February 23, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the Conservative Political Action Conference audience that he was going to “break a little bit of news here” and said that “since Inauguration Day, illegal crossings have dropped 50 percent” in the Rio Grande sector of the country’s Southwest border.

“And to give an indication of just how much impact common sense policies can have,” Cruz said, “let me actually shift for a second, as we wrap up, from the Constitution to a basic priority, enforcing the border. So this week, I was down at the border, I was down at McAllen, joined the Border Patrol, did an air patrol up in the planes, went, rode in a gun boat up and down the Rio Grande, joined them on a midnight ride along as they were enforcing the border and let me break a little bit of news here. You know what the Border Patrol told me in the Rio Grande Valley Sector? That since Inauguration Day, illegal crossings have dropped 50 percent. Now oddly enough, you and I have not seen that on the six o’clock news. Somehow reporters aren’t reporting it. I asked them, I said, why is that? Border Patrol agents said they didn’t know. But they assumed it was because with the new administration, they understood we’d have an administration that would finally, finally, finally enforce the laws.”

Hours later, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed to Latino USA via email that the data Cruz had claimed was not publicly available, but it would be sharing those findings on February 24:

A day after receiving that email response, CBP posted the following update on its site, which included information only up to December 31, 2016. It did not include any of the January data or any figures that would back up Cruz’s claim.

About a week after CBP posted the December information, it updated its reporting site to include the January 2017 summary. Although though the data did not specifically address Cruz’s claim that “since Inauguration Day, illegal crossings have dropped 50 percent,” the latest CBP report did show a significant drop in apprehensions and inadmissable entries, but also said that “total migration remained at elevated levels:”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection saw a decrease in apprehensions between our ports of entry and a decrease in individuals deemed inadmissible to enter the U.S. at our ports of entry along the Southwest Border in January 2017. Overall total migration remained at elevated levels, primarily due to family units and unaccompanied children from Central America, Haitian nationals migrating from Brazil, and Cuban nationals.

This first CBP chart listed the number of apprehensions for UACs (“Unaccompanied Alien Children”) and Family Units.


The unaccompanied minors apprehensions dropped 39% between December 2016 and January 2017, while Family Unit apprehensions dropped 42%. However, when you subtract UAC and Family Unit apprehensions from the total number of apprehensions for both months, there was only a 10% decrease. In other words, apprehensions of non-UAC/non-Family Units in January was 17,850. In December, that number was 19,908. Overall, the decrease in all apprehensions (UAC, Family Units,non-UAC/non-Family Units) was 27%.

As for inadmissable entries, UACs decreased 38%, Family Units decreased 29% and non-UAC/non-Family Units dropped 27%. The overall decrease was 28%.


CBP defines inadmissable entries to “include individuals encountered at ports of entry who are seeking lawful admission into the United States but are determined to be inadmissible, individuals presenting themselves to seek humanitarian protection under our laws, and individuals who withdraw an application for admission and return to their countries of origin within a short timeframe.”

When the total number of apprehensions is combined with the total number of inadmisssable entries and compared between January and December, the total overall decrease was 27%.

Furthermore, CBP updated its apprehension statistics across specific areas in the Southwest sector. Again, Cruz’s news about a 50% decrease since Inauguration Day is not included in these figures, and a more specific analysis by Latino USA about the Rio Grande sector showed a 43% decrease between January and December for unaccompanied minors, a 42% decrease for Family Units, but only a 16% decrease for non-UAC/non-Family Units apprehensions and a 33% decrease for all overall apprehensions.

Also, this current CBP table showed a 33% FY2017 increase (October 1, 2016–January 31, 2017) in UAC apprehensions at the Rio Grande sector, when compared to the same time period for FY2016.


For Family Units apprehensions, the current FY2017 number at Rio Grande sector is a 124% increase, when compared to FY2016.


CBP listed countries of origins for UAC and Family Units groups. So far, Guatemala topped the list of unaccompanied minors being apprehended during FY2017. Mexico was last.


For Family Unit apprehensions, El Salvador was at the top of the list, with Mexico far behind.


Latino USA contacted CBP for any additional comment about these latest statistics, in light of Cruz’s February 23 remarks. As of this posting, CBP has yet to reply to our request.

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