Fact Check: 9,000 'Illegals' In 2020 And 108,000 In 2021 Are NOT Accurate Numbers Of Border Apprehensions And Entries Into The U.S.

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: 9,000 'Illegals' In 2020 And 108,000 In 2021 Are NOT Accurate Numbers Of Border Apprehensions And Entries Into The U.S. Wrong Numbers

Did 9,000 "illegals" enter the United States in all of 2020 versus 108,000 in the first three months of 2021? No, that's not true: The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed to Lead Stories the agency's numbers are vastly different from those in a posted claim. In the 2020 calendar year 547,816 people were apprehended entering the U.S. illegally and in 2021 so far there have been 178,883 apprehensions.

The claim appeared as a post (archived here) published on Facebook on March 13, 2021. It opened:

Sleepy Joe now saying he inherited "a mess" at the border. Fact: 9,000 illegals all of 2020. So far in 2021 108,000 entered US

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Mar 15 23:28:34 2021 UTC)

The post cites no source and gives no explanation for the numbers it puts forth, which suggest a ten-fold increase in illegal border crossings.

Roger Maier, public affairs specialist in the Office of Public Affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, confirmed to Lead Stories via email on March 15, 2021, that the numbers on the agency's website reflect the accurate numbers of people apprehended crossing the border illegally. Those data don't show a ten-fold increase in 2021, compared to past years, although they do show an increase of roughly 30% over first-quarter crossings in 2020.

CBP counts a fiscal year (FY) from October 1 to September 30. The graph breaks down the monthly numbers and each month is " independently reported/not cumulative," Maier explained.

The graph on the official website showing the monthly breakdown of the number of people includes, "Accompanied Minors, Family Unit Aliens (FMUA), Single Adults and Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) / Single Minors."

The graph notes the following number of Border Patrol Apprehensions:

FISCAL YEAR (OCT-SEPT) 2020
458,088
CALENDAR YEAR (JAN-DEC) 2020
547,816

FISCAL YEAR (OCT-SEPT) 2021
396,958
CALENDAR YEAR
178,883

Screen Shot 2021-03-15 at 7.45.09 PM.png

This is a close-up of the numbers reflected in the graph:

Screen Shot 2021-03-15 at 7.44.28 PM.png

Denise Gilman, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, told Lead Stories via telephone on March 17, 2021, that the 9,000 and 108,000 numbers in the social media post are incorrect. She cited the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website information as an accurate count for the number of people entering the country illegally. Gilman explained that apprehensions is the statistic by which experts track the number of people illegally entering the United States:

Border Patrol and experts in and outside of government have always understood you can only really evaluate how many people are crossing the border by how many people are apprehended at the border.

Gilman also told Lead Stories that the border policy has not changed since the Biden administration took charge of the agencies that patrol the U.S.- Mexico border. "There has been absolutely no change in the ability of an individual to cross without apprehension."

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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