Biden White House Releases Record Border Numbers Late on Friday

President Joe Biden said during his candidacy that if he were elected president, migrants who were seeking asylum should “immediately surge to the border.”

“What I would do as president is several more things,” said Biden during the first Democratic primary debate for the 2020 presidential election. “I would, in fact, make sure that there is…We immediately surge to the border; all those people are seeking asylum.”

In the meantime, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released record-breaking operational statistics Friday for August. CBP had 181,059 encounters between ports of entry along the Southwest border with Mexico, with 232,972 encounters reported for the month.

Despite Biden’s directive, CBP remains watchful against criminal groups and smugglers trafficking lethal drugs and exploiting migrants, posing a community threat. 

“CBP remains vigilant in the face of ruthless smugglers and transnational criminal organizations who exploit vulnerable migrants, the same criminal organizations trafficking in lethal drugs that harm our communities,” said a senior official performing commissioner duties, Troy A. Miller, according to the CBP Friday media release.

“Our operational tempo along the border has increased in response to increased encounters, and we remain squarely focused on our broader security mission and enforcing U.S. immigration laws,” added Miller.

11% of CBP August migrant encounters were individuals with at least one previous encounter in previous 12 months

Among the CBP’s 232,972 overall encounters along the southern border in August, 11% involved individuals who had at least one previous encounter in the previous 12 months, compared to an average one-year reencounter rate of 14% for the fiscal years 2014-2019 and a 35% repeat encounter rate in August 2022.

During the last month, the Title 42 public health order was entirely in place, April of 2023, repeat encounters accounted for almost a quarter, 23%, of overall encounters. 

The number of unique encounters by the CBP along the border was 164,911 in August 2023.

CBP additionally reported an 11% one-year reencounter rate among 232,972 encounters on the Southwestern border, down from a 35% rate in August 2022 and a 14% average from 2014 to 2019.

In August, the CBP apprehended over 91,000 migrants who entered the United States as family groups, setting a new record high. The number surpasses the previous monthly record in May 2019 of 84,486 arrests during the Trump administration, according to preliminary figures The Washington Post reviewed.

The fentanyl seizures by the CBP also increased from July to August. 

Through August, CBP confiscated more than 25,500 pounds of fentanyl, a significant increase from the 12,800 pounds that were seized during the same time in 2022. It marks a rise of over 800% in fentanyl seizures since fiscal year 2019, and fiscal year 2023 has already surpassed the total seizures of fiscal year 2022.