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Comprehensive Lifecycle Report Reveals Significant Discrepancy of Outcomes of Encounters with Aliens at the Southwest Border Between 2014 and 2019


(Information contained in U.S. Department of Homeland Security [DHS] press release dated: December 31, 2020)

Washington, D.C. – Today the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the Fiscal Year 2020 Enforcement Lifecycle Report, which provides a comprehensive analysis of enforcement outcomes for aliens encountered at the Southwest Border during Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019. Unlike previous DHS reports, the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) Enforcement Lifecycle methodology links records across 19 different DHS and Department of Justice (DOJ) source systems to match each unique border encounter to its associated final or most current enforcement outcome and so provides a complete end-to-end view of immigration enforcement.

“The Trump Administration has worked tirelessly to fix our broken immigration system,” said Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli. “With this comprehensive report the Department analyzes the patterns of flow, the demographic backgrounds, and other factors so we can see areas for improvement, where to close loopholes and more effectively enforce the laws that allow for the removal of illegal aliens and those who are trying to game our immigration system.”

The report indicates U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended 2.8 million aliens between ports of entry along the Southwest Border between Fiscal Year 2014 and 2019 and found an additional 725,000 aliens inadmissible at ports of entry. The report found, significantly, that as of the second quarter of FY 2020, only approximately 8 percent of those encounters had resulted in an alien being granted relief or protection from removal. Further, roughly half of aliens encountered between 2014 and 2019 remained in the United States as of the second quarter of FY 2020. Specifically:

- Only 59 percent of the 3.5 million Southwest Border encounters between 2014 and 2019 had been resolved through a final outcome of repatriation or relief/protection from removal as of FY 2020 Q2.

- Repatriations accounted for 51 percent of encounters (or 1.8 million) versus 49 percent of encounters (or 1.7 million) that had no confirmed departure, including 8.1 percent that had been granted relief or other protection from removal (284,000 encounters).

The data compiled by the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) also revealed significant differences in the outcomes of encounters based on aliens’ family status of the aliens, among other factors:
  • Encounters of single adults were resolved 85 percent of the time (of resolved cases, 92 percent were repatriations versus 8 percent relief). Of the 2.1 million single adults encountered in 2014 - 2019, 1.6 million had been repatriated.
  • Encounters of family units were resolved just 11 percent of the time (56 percent repatriations versus 44 percent relief). Of the roughly 1 million members of family units encountered in 2014 - 2019, only 61,000 (6 percent) had been repatriated, while over 200,000 members of family units had final orders of removal but had not departed.
  • Encounters of unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries were resolved only 32 percent of the time (13 percent repatriations versus 87 percent relief). Of the 284,000 unaccompanied alien child encounters from countries other than Mexico or Canada between 2014 and 2019, only 13,000 had been repatriated, while 47,000 had final orders of removal but had not departed.
The report also found dramatic differences in enforcement outcomes by aliens’ nationality and whether they claimed fear of return to their home country.

Differences in outcomes by family status and other factors overlap with and are related to whether an alien was detained. For example, encounters of single adults resulted in continuous detentions 64 percent of the time, versus just 4 percent for family units and for unaccompanied alien children from countries other than Mexico or Canada. Detention status further contributed to difference in enforcement outcomes:
  • Roughly 98 percent of encounters (1.4 million) who were continuously detained after being initially encountered between 2014 and 2019 were repatriated.
  • Only 36 percent of encounters who were never detained (312,000) were repatriated. Further, 122,000 encounters who were never detained had final orders of removal but had not departed, including 101,000 orders issued in absentia.
  • Only 4 percent of encounters who were “partially detained” (totaling nearly 31,000) were repatriated. Further, roughly 176,000 aliens encountered between 2014 and 2019 who were “partially detained” had final orders of removal but had not departed, including roughly 136,000 who had been issued in absentia orders.
The full report is available for review here.

FY14-19 Lifecycle Report Key Findings can be found here.

The letter from Acting Deputy Secretary Cuccinelli can be read here.