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Claim that 9,000 border crossers were apprehended in 2020 is false

March 16, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: In all of 2020, there were only 9,000 immigrants caught at the border without legal status. So far in 2021,108,000 entered the country. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, there were 547,816 apprehensions at the southern border between January 2020 and December 2020. That compares to 178,883 apprehensions since January 1, 2021.

THE FACTS: A popular Facebook post is spreading false statistics about the number of migrants apprehended at the southern border since President Joe Biden took office compared to the last year of the Trump administration.

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“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 U.S,” says the post, which has been shared thousands of times on Facebook.

But those numbers are not correct. 

CBP typically organizes data around fiscal years that run from Oct. 1 through the following September. Yet monthly statistics from CBP show that from January 1 to December, 31, 2020, the last full year of Trump’s presidency, border officials made 547,816 apprehensions along the border that the U.S. shares with Mexico. 

Biden took office on Jan. 20. In January 2021 there were 74,018 apprehensions at the southern border. In February there were 100,441. Combined, there were 178,883 apprehensions in 2021 to date, according to CBP numbers.

It is unclear where the incorrect statistics being shared on social media came from. 

Data from CBP show that more than 70 percent of apprehensions at the border in February resulted in immediate expulsions.

Since some people attempt to cross the border multiple times, apprehension data does not reflect the number of unique individuals who attempted to cross and were caught.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.


Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536