It’s been a busy year for the US Border Patrol, with total nationwide arrests up 23% from 2015, according to a year-end report issued Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS released its annual report on immigration enforcement efforts across various federal agencies, highlighting the prioritization of resources on convicted criminals, threats to national security and those who attempt to cross the border unlawfully.
US Border Patrol reported 415,816 apprehensions nationwide, compared to 337,177 in fiscal year 2015. This increase in arrests, however, represents only a “fraction” of the apprehensions averaged per year between 1980 and 2008, according to the report.
“Apprehensions on the border in recent years — a strong indicator of total attempts to cross the border — are much lower than they used to be,” said DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson in a written statement following the report’s release.
Raw numbers alone do not tell the entire story.
For instance, DHS emphasized the significant demographic changes of those crossing the southern border over the last 15 years. In 2006, the majority of individuals caught crossing the border without authorization were single adults from Mexico, whereas in 2016, the majority were families and unaccompanied children from Central America, according to DHS officials.
Border Patrol apprehended 59,757 unaccompanied children nationwide in 2016, states the report, which covers fiscal year 2016.
The report also noted that an increasing share of migrants are surrendering to law enforcement to seek asylum protection rather than trying to evade apprehension.