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By Philip Jankowski September 12, 2014

Dan Patrick says Border Patrol apprehends more immigrants a week than there are babies born in Texas

State Sen. Dan Patrick put a numerical twist on the U.S.-Mexico border situation, saying that more border crossers are being apprehended than babies are being born in Texas.

In a July 21, 2014, appearance on Laura Ingraham’s radio program, Patrick, the 2014 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, said: "Just two weeks ago, we apprehended almost 10,000 people crossing the border--in one week, Laura." After explanation about those numbers, Patrick continued, "If we apprehend eight or nine thousand a week, that’s more people than are born in Texas each week."

Ingraham drew in her breath--and we wondered about Patrick’s border apprehensions and Texas births comparison.

To our inquiry, Patrick campaign spokesman Alejandro Garcia said by phone Patrick picked up on the comparison from a briefing by state officials when he was in the Rio Grande Valley in June 2014. The comparison, Garcia said, illustrates the seriousness of border apprehensions.

By email, Garcia pointed us to a U.S. Border Patrol chart showing annual apprehensions in the Southwest Border sector, meaning the southern border running from Brownsville to San Diego. In the federal fiscal year that ran through September 2013, there were 414,397 apprehensions in the sector, counting 243,550 along the Texas portion of the border, according to the chart. (As we’ve noted before, an "apprehension" is an arrest for being in the United States without authorization, but it’s worth noting the number of people detained will be smaller because some individuals are arrested more than once.)

Garcia also noted a Texas Department of State Health Services web page indicating that in 2010, 385,746 babies were born in the state

So, U.S-Mexico border apprehensions in 2012-13 outnumbered Texas births in 2010.

Up-to-date data

Recognizing this information didn’t enable an apples-to-apples comparison -- the births occurred three years before the apprehensions -- we looked for the latest available information on apprehensions and births.

By email, Christine Mann of the Texas Department of State of Health Services gave us "provisional" monthly birth tallies for 2013 and 2014. Separately, Doug Mosier, an El Paso-based Border Patrol spokesman, provided a chart indicating monthly apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border from October 2012 through early September 2014.

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This enabled us to compare apprehensions and births by month for all of 2013 and the first six months of 2014. Result: Apprehensions outnumbered births in 11 of the 18 months including the latest months, February through June 2014. Texas births outnumbered apprehensions in January 2013; July through September 2013; and November 2013 through January 2014.

For the sake of gauging Patrick’s claim over the latest full year of data available when he spoke, we looked at totals covering July 2013 through June 2014. In those months, there were about 393,299 births in Texas, according to the state. Meantime, the Border Patrol tallied 480,404 apprehensions.

But monthly apprehensions fluctuated considerably, ranging from a low of 28,671 in January 2014 to a high of 60,689 in May 2014 (when 17,888 apprehended immigrants were 17 years old or younger). Of note, Texas births outnumbered apprehensions in the border region in half the months, most recently January 2014 when the 33,089 births compared to 28,671 apprehensions.

So, apprehensions outnumbered births in the 12 months by 87,105, or 22 percent. By our calculation, that is, there were an average of 9,213 weekly apprehensions and 7,543 Texas weekly births.

Footnote: Apprehensions outnumbering Texas births looks like a new development. For instance in the federal fiscal year of 2012, 380,140 babies were born in Texas while the Border Patrol had 356,873 apprehensions near the southwestern border. The same was so in fiscal 2011, when 380,481 children were born in Texas and the Border Patrol apprehended 327,577. Divide that down into a weekly rate, and in both years, births in Texas outnumbered apprehensions along the Mexico border.

Our ruling

Patrick said each week, more people are apprehended after entering the U.S. by illegally crossing the Mexico/U.S. border than are born in Texas.

According to state and federal figures, that was so in each of the five months preceding Patrick’s radio interview. It’s worth noting that when apprehensions sufficiently decrease -- as in six of the previous seven months -- this claim wouldn’t hold.

This claim was solid when Patrick spoke. We rate it True.

TRUE – The statement is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing.

Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

Our Sources

Audio, Dan Patrick interviewed by Laura Ingraham, Ingraham website, July 21, 2014

Emails and telephone interview, Alejandro Garcia, communications director, Dan Patrick campaign, July 30-31 and Sept. 11, 2014

Chart, "United States Border Patrol Southwest Border Sectors Total Illegal Alien Apprehensions By Fiscal Year (Oct. 1st through Sept. 30th)," 1960-2013, U.S. Border Patrol (accessed Aug. 5, 2014)

Web page, "Births by Public Health Region, County and City of Residence Texas, 2010 (Cities over 5,000 Population - 2000 Census)," Texas Department of State Health Services, last updated May 22, 2012 (accessed Aug. 5, 2014)

Email with chart, "USBP Southwest Border Apprehensions by Month, FY2013 - FY2014 through June," as of Sept. 9, 2014, Douglas T. Mosier, public affairs officer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, El Paso, Sept. 10, 2014


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