Border Apprehensions in 2019 could well exceed 1 million

Last week, the Washington Post took the President Trump to task, claiming he exaggerated when he stated that, "We’re on track for a million illegal aliens to rush our borders.”

In fact, it could be worse.  A lot worse.


Last Monday, the 18th, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stated that March southwest border apprehensions would approach 100,000 persons.  This is well ahead of our forecast of 82,500, but given that Secretary Nielsen's speech was made more than halfway through the month, the 100,000 apprehensions mark is likely to stick.

The graph below shows apprehensions including the presumed 100,000 March value, with the tan baseline representing the comparable, 'business as usual" numbers based on 2018 before apprehensions started accelerating last August.  It is quite a scary graph.

Appre March Potential.png

Since the beginning of 2019, apprehensions have been increasing by 20,000 / month.  The situation is likely to deteriorate further.  The graph below extrapolates 2019 based on the first three months' trend.  (For our friends in the press, this is a scenario, not a forecast.)  This would deliver calendar year apprehensions of just under 2.0 million, eclipsing the all-time high of 1.6 million attained during the boom in CY 2000.

Appre Trend.png

Is this at all possible?  The relevant countries -- Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras -- have a combined population of approximately 30 million, so on paper at least, there is plenty of migrant firepower for months to come.  The reality is this: The numbers clearly show that the word is out that the US border is open and unprotected, and that anyone who can muster a child will be granted free entry into the US.  Unlike the US Congress, migrants may be poor and uneducated, but they are not stupid.  They clearly understand that the current system will not last, and that uncontrolled crossings will sooner, rather than later, lead to a political crisis in the US which will sharply curtail asylum rights.  For Northern Triangle migrants, therefore, it is do-or-die time.  Many will seize the opportunity. Consequently, we should expect apprehensions to accelerate into the summer months, and if nothing is done, into the fall, until all those with a desire to migrate to the US have actually done so.  High-end projections for the next few months therefore look all too plausible.

Our political expectations are unchanged.  By mid-July at the latest, the US will be facing a full-blown political crisis over soaring apprehension rates, and the Democrats will ultimately agree to limits on asylum rights.  The question is how much political damage they will incur in the interim.  The moderate Republican seats which the Democrats won in November will be at stake.