DHS Goal: 19% of Those Detected Illegally Crossing Border into U.S. Will Get Away

By Terence P. Jeffrey | April 11, 2016 | 5:15 PM EDT

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) - One of the Department of Homeland Security’s fiscal 2016 goals is for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to either apprehend or turn back 81 percent of the persons it detects illegally entering the United States between the ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border.

If DHS were to meet that goal, 19 percent of the individuals CBP detects illegally entering the United States across the southwest border would evade apprehension and would not be turned back into Mexico.

An appendix to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security Annual Performance Report” refers to such individuals as "gotaways."

Last year, in fiscal 2015, according to the report, 81.01 percent of the “illegal entrants” CBP detected crossing the southwest border into the United States between the ports of entry were apprehended or turned back.

18.99 percent got away.

Screen capture from the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security Annual Performance Report, Fiscal Years 2015-2017

In response to questions from CNSNews.com, CBP said the Border Patrol had “apprehended” 331,333 individuals crossing the southwest border between the ports of entry in fiscal 2015.

(Similarly, the fiscal 2015 “CBP Border Security Report” published on Dec. 22, 2015, said CBP had made 331,335 apprehensions along the southwest border in fiscal 2015. These included 70,074 in Arizona; 39,575 in California; 11,218 in New Mexico and 210,468 in Texas.)

CBP, however, declined to state the total number it detected illegally crossing the southwest border into the United States in fiscal 2015 or the numerical subsets of those it detected illegally crossing the border who then turned back into Mexico and those it detected who got away into the United States.

“The USBP apprehended 331,333 subjects on the southwest border in FY15,” CBP told CNSNews.com in written answers provided in response to written questions.

“The number of turn-backs and got-aways are law enforcement-sensitive, but the information is used for intelligence and operations,” CBP said.

The DHS “Annual Performance Report,” published in February, lists as one mission of the department to “Secure and Manage Our Borders.” The first “goal” under this mission is to “Secure U.S. Air, Land, and Sea Borders and Approaches.”

Under this goal, one of the “strategic measures” listed is: “Rate of interdiction effectiveness along the Southwest Border between the ports of entry.”

“This measure reports the percent of detected illegal entrants who were apprehended or turned back after illegally entering the United States between the ports of entry on the southwest border,” says the report. The report refers to this metric as the “Interdiction Effectiveness Rate” (IER).

“The IER focuses on positive outcomes (apprehensions or turnbacks) of recent entrants made in the immediate border area, and excludes apprehensions made over 30 days after entry and apprehensions made beyond our area of operations.”

The report then notes that in fiscal 2015, CBP had a goal of apprehending or turning back 80 percent of those it detected illegally entering the United States across the Mexican border and that for fiscal 2016 the goal is 81 percent.

“Through recent process improvements that identify capability gaps, as well as additional man hours attained through the Overtime Transition Plan, CBP was able to strategically deploy resources based on risk and end the year with an IER of 81.01 percent, exceeding the 80 percent target,” said the report.

“Using this strategic approach, CBP plans to accomplish the goal of an 81 percent IER in FY 2016,” says the report.

In an appendix to the report, DHS explained this CBP goal and how it is calculated.

“This measure reports the percent of detected illegal entrants who were apprehended or turned back after illegally entering the United States between the ports of entry on the Southwest border,” says the appendix. “The Border Patrol achieves this desired strategic outcome by maximizing the apprehension of detected illegal entrants or, confirming that illegal entrants return to the country from which they entered; and by minimizing the number of persons who evade apprehension and can no longer be pursued.”

The appendix also defines what the department means by an “apprehension,” a “gotaway,” and a “turnback:”

“Apprehension: A deportable subject who, after making an illegal entry, is taken into custody and receives a consequence. Gotaway: A subject who, after making an illegal entry, is not turned back or apprehended and is no longer being actively pursued by Border Patrol agents. Turn Back: A subject who, after making an illegal entry into the US, returns to the country from which he/she entered, not resulting in an apprehension or GA.”

The appendix further explains how the Interdiction Effectiveness Rate (IER) is calculated: “Calculation of the measure is done by the HQ SDI Unit [Border Patrol Headquarters Statistics and Data Integrity Unit] and is: (Apprehensions + TB)/Total Entries. Total entries is the sum of Apprehensions, TBs, and GAs.”