Most Border Patrol Apprehensions are for Repeat Crossers, But Agency Data Doesn't Yet Provide the Full Picture
(09 Sep 2022) Using detailed government records, TRAC found that the percent of Border Patrol (BP) apprehensions that comprise repeat border crossers did not significantly increase when, under Title 42 , illegal border crossers were not penalized or sanctioned before they were expelled. This finding, based on data obtained from the Border Patrol by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, is contrary to agency contentions and arguments by policy analysts that immediate expulsions without applying meaningful sanctions such as criminal prosecution to repeat crossers encourages illegal reentry attempts.

For this report, the data used were unique in that illegal entry attempts for each individual were tracked for two decades. Repeat reentry attempts varied markedly by demographic characteristics and whether or not the noncitizen was from Mexico. Not surprisingly those from Mexico had a higher likelihood of previous reentry attempts, as did adults traveling without children.

Many migrants were remarkably persistent in the number of attempts made. When examining this 20-year span of time, these records indicated that countless individuals had been apprehended well over just a few times, and one individual had been previously apprehended on 81 separate occasions. For most BP apprehensions — about 60 percent — the individual had in fact been previously arrested for at least one unlawful entry.

At the start of Title 42, individuals who were picked up presumably reflected their prior repeat reentry attempts under the Border Patrol's normal operations. The extent this changed over time was analyzed to better isolate whether the lack of criminal prosecutions or other sanctions may have resulted in increasing reentry attempts. No significant increase was found.

Without better data that would count individuals and their characteristics, rather than merely counting enforcement events, the agency and the public will not have an adequate handle on the outcomes of various border control policies. Meaningful analysis of recidivism requires details on the composition of who the Border Patrol picks up. Significantly more could be learned examining longer periods of time than a single year, the period of time that the Border Patrol typically focuses on.

To examine TRAC's detailed findings, including extensive tables and graphs, read the full report at:

These case-by-case details on apprehensions have been added to TRAC's free web query tool tracking for the past 15 years all Border Patrol arrests under both Title 8 and Title 42. To delve further into this important topic by accessing this data tool, go to.

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