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TOPIC: What about the crime that migrants bring across the border?


Question: Are the migrants criminals?


Answer: So far this year, about 4,750 migrants were found to have been convicted of crimes and arrested.  This represents roughly 6 out of 1,000 individuals.


 They are not released into the US if they have committed a serious crime. They are jailed or deported.

An “encounter” is not a unique person. If the same person is “encountered” by Border patrol 5 times, that is 5 “encounters” The Border Patrol estimates that 62% of all “encounters” are unique people.  Therefore, of the 1.2M people that Border Patrol “encountered” (FY2022) represent about 755K individuals.  Source: See CBP data below


Question: How many terrorists tried to cross the border?


Answer: Usually between 20-35 per year.


First, it is important to understand terms. A “known or suspected terrorist” (KST) is someone who has actually been charged with an act of terrorism, a member of a terrorist organization, or is suspected of planning a terrorism act.  Customs and Border Protection only publishes data on how many people on the FBI Watchlist (a longer list than just KSTs) they have encountered. So far in FY2022, CBP has encountered 158 people on watchlists, representing about 1 out of every 10,000 people. Most attempt to cross at regular ports of entry – only 27 attempted to cross illegally.

A “special interest alien” (SIA) is not suspected of terrorism but is from or has traveled to a country that is a national security threat, or might know someone who might be involved in “nefarious” activities, and they may have also committed a crime themselves. They may also have used false documents or a smuggler during this travel. While many numbers are thrown around in the media, it is hard to know exactly how many SIAs crossed the border, because no government agency will release that information publicly.  DHS has said that approximately 3,000 SIAs crossed the border in 2018.  


Question: How many murders attempted to cross the border?

Answer: So far in FY2022, 34 people were arrested who had been convicted of murder.

Source: See CBP data below


Question: How many rapists attempted to cross the border?

Answer: So far in FY2022, 144 people were arrested who had been convicted of sexual offenses.


Source: See CBP data below


Question: Do border cities experience higher crime rates?

Answer: In most cities serving busy border crossings, the violent crime rate was lower than the national average.


Below are cities serving large border crossings and their relative crime rates. Source: FBI, 2019
National average: 366.7
McAllen / Edinburg / Mission, TX (Reynosa) 268.9
Brownsville / Harlingen, TX. (Matamoros) 375.1
El Paso, TX (Ciudad Juárez) 333.2
Tucson, AZ (Nogales) 447.4
Yuma, AZ 277.8
Laredo, TX (Nuevo Laredo) 321.9
San Diego, CA (Tijuana) 341.2
El Centro, CA (Mexicali) 339.4


Works Cited for Discussion 

FBI National Press Office. (2020, September 28). FBI Releases 2019 Crime Statistics. Retrieved from Federal Bureau of Investigation:

Open Borders. (n.d.). Human Smuggling Fees. Retrieved from Open Borders: The Case:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (2022, April). Enforcement Statistics. Retrieved from U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2021). Countering Human Trafficking: Year in Review (October 2020 to September 2021). Retrieved from U.S. Department of Homeland Security: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2021). MYTH/FACT: Known and Suspected Terrorists/Special Interest Aliens. Retrieved from U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

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