Vice President Mike Pence said that the southern border is a “humanitarian and security crisis‘ during an interview with NBC’s Today show.
He also said that Donald Trump would explain this during a scheduled television address on Tuesday. But Pence stopped short of stating that Trump would declare a national emergency to build a border wall as Congress has not funded the project.
Pence claimed that 60,000 people a month were trying to enter the U.S. illegally and that “the vast majority” are “families and unaccompanied children,” which is “overwhelming the ability of our Customs and Border Patrol to address it.” He also said that 17,000 people “with criminal records” were apprehended “at our border.”
A Fortune examination of CBP figures shows that extreme shifts in traffic have become common since the Trump administration came into power. The numbers of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border were 60,772 in October 2018 and 62,456 in November 2018, the first two months of the government’s fiscal year.
But in 2017, October and November numbers were 66,842 and 63,218 respectively. Then the counts dipped to a low of 15,798 in April. There is nothing in the data so far to suggest that the numbers will remain at the current levels let alone increase.
As the Washington Post has noted, the claim of 17,000 people having criminal records is highly misleading. There is no breakdown of the types of charges, which technically could include illegal entry or reentry, and a majority of the apprehensions happen at ports of entry, which include airports and seaports nowhere near the border.