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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Video: Criminals Arrested at Southern Border

In this video, CNN’s Jake Tapper breaks down a misleading claim from the Trump administration about the number of people with criminal records arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In making the case for a border wall, White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, in a Jan. 6 CNN interview, and President Donald Trump, in a Jan. 4 letter to Congress, have claimed that 17,000 individuals with criminal records were arrested by U.S. officials at the border. But the figure includes mostly people who tried to enter the U.S. lawfully through ports of entry, some of which aren’t even on the Southwest border.

Here’s what we know based on Customs and Border Protection data through Aug. 31, 2018, one month shy of the full 2018 fiscal year:

  • Border Patrol, which is “responsible for securing U.S. borders between ports of entry,” encountered 6,259 “criminal aliens,” immigrants who were apprehended and had been “convicted of crime, whether in the United States or abroad.” Those individuals had been convicted of 7,820 offenses, 46.5 percent of which were illegal entry/reentry offenses.
  • Another 10,572 “criminal aliens” were encountered by CBP’s Office of Field Operations, which handles the 328 ports of entry in the United States, where individuals seek lawful entry into the country. CBP statistics don’t include a breakdown of the convictions of individuals stopped by the Office of Field Operations at ports of entry, nor is there a breakdown for how many people were encountered along the Southwest border.

So, CBP encountered about 17,000 people with criminal records who tried to enter the U.S., but not all of those people attempted to enter illegally through the Southwest border

For a complete analysis, read our Jan. 8 story “Misleading Border Crime Statistic.” Our past video collaborations with CNN’s “State of the Union” are on FactCheck.org.