Customs and Border Protection has released the number of migrants it apprehended in July. It looked like most of the past seven Julys—usually a month when, due to scorching temperatures along the U.S.-Mexico border, migration declines. The nearly seven years of data represented in this chart—the only span for which we have monthly information this detailed—is a period of the lowest migration since the early 1970s.
Take away unaccompanied children and families—that is, look just at the blue part of the chart that represents “everyone else”—and July 2018 was the second-lowest of the last seven Julys. Anybody in the Trump administration sounding the alarms about migrants “flooding the border” is ignoring the facts—and dangerously inflaming their political base’s ugly xenophobia.
The data, along with that from the Mexican government’s Migration Policy Unit, tells us a few things about migration from Central America’s troubled “northern triangle.”
Migration from Honduras shot upward at the beginning of the year, perhaps because of the chaos and uncertainty following a disputed, possibly fraudulent, late-November presidential election. It has since declined a bit, probably because of the summer.
Guatemala has a larger population than El Salvador and Honduras combined, so numbers are usually somewhat larger. No unusual trends here this year.
El Salvador is an outlier. As recently as late 2016, U.S. authorities were apprehending more than 6,000 Salvadoran kids and family members per month. Numbers plummeted after Donald Trump’s inauguration, as they did from everywhere during the first half of 2017. But unlike everywhere else, migration from El Salvador has hardly recovered. This may be due to news of the revocation of Temporary Protected Status, which could force at least 195,000 Salvadorans living in the United States either underground or back to El Salvador.