Fact Check: Congresswoman’s claims about illegal crossings at our northern border

Fact Check explores Rep. Tenney’s claims about illegal immigration

Fact Check explores Rep. Tenney's claims about illegal immigration

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — One of the big issues this presidential election year is illegal immigration. Most of the reporting focuses on the southern border with Mexico.

A recent ad featuring Congresswoman Claudia Tenney is highlighting illegal crossings at the northern border, and several of you asked News10NBC if the statistics used in the ad are true.

Brett Davidsen decided to Fact Check it.

The ad in question has been running on TV stations throughout the region, including here on News10NBC. It includes text reading “BORDER CRISIS,” “NORTH FACING SHORTAGES” and “800% SPIKE IN ILLEGAL CROSSINGS.”

It makes a couple of claims about people crossing into our northern border.

The first claim is that the northern border is facing historic staffing shortages and an 800% spike in illegal crossings. Wait, an 800% spike in illegal crossings? Brett went looking for the source of that information.

First, he emailed the Office of Congresswoman Tenney. A spokesperson pointed him to a press release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection dated February 2023. Sure enough, it mentions an 846% increase in encounters during the first four months of fiscal year 2023 — compared to the prior year.

But Brett wanted to see the raw numbers. Here’s what he got from Border Patrol:

From October of 2022 through January of 2023, agents encountered 1,514 illegal immigrants. Over those same four months the prior year, the number was 160. That’s an 846% increase. Based on that data, the claim is true.
However, if you take a closer look at the press release, you’ll see the data is for encounters at crossings in the Border Patrol’s “Swanton Sector” — which only includes northern New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. If you include the entire northern U.S. border, the increase over the same period is closer to 133%.

The second claim in the ad states 85% of suspected terrorists trying to enter our country have come through the northern border.

In fiscal year 2023, there were 564 encounters at ports of entry into the United States from people who’s names appear on the terror watch list. 484 of those were at the northern border — 85%.

In 2022 it was 82%, and in 2021 it was 34%.

It’s important to note, though, that those numbers may include multiple encounters by the same person. Still, based on the government data, the claim is fact.