The soaring number of migrant encounters at the southern U.S. border this fiscal year has now eclipsed two million — a number that sets a new record, as well as a glaring sign of the massive, ongoing crisis facing officials, communities, and agents at the border.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced that there were 199,976 migrant encounters in July, adding to the fiscal year’s total of 1.946 million encounters. Sources with the CBP say that since then, the number of migrant encounters has surpassed the two-million mark, a milestone never seen at the border. Last year’s record-setting numbers saw more than 1.7 million migrant encounters. Last year, border agents had made approximately 1.2 million encounters.
The migrant crisis intensified when President Biden took office, growing from around 72,000 encounters at the end of 2020 to 173,000 by March 2021. The number of encounters has not approached, dipping below the 150,000 encounters-per-month mark.
In July, four months of 200,000+ apprehensions only recently dipped by a few dozen below that number. The Biden administration has claimed that the number of encounters is overblown by recidivism due to Title 42 expulsions. Recidivism is when migrants who are rapidly expelled under the order frequently make multiple crossing attempts.
The administration has attempted to end the order, implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic, but has been blocked by a court order thus far. There were 162,792 ‘unique encounters’ in July alone.
According to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, “July marked the second month of decreased encounters along the Southwest border — the first two-month drop since October 2021. We continue to take action to reduce irregular migration and dismantle the human smuggling operations that put migrants in danger.”
Border crisis constant headache for Biden administration
The crisis at the southern border has been a persistent headache for both communications and officials at the border and the Biden administration. Arizona and Texas recently began moving migrants to New York City and Washington, D.C., protesting Biden administration policies.
Republicans blame the Biden administration for reversing Trump-era policies like the “Remain-in-Mexico” policy, which kept migrants in Mexico instead of releasing them into the United States. After a protracted court battle, the Biden administration was only recently given the green light to end the policy.
The administration also halted construction on the border wall and has aimed to narrow interior immigration enforcement — but like the “Remain in Mexico” policy, it has been blocked by a legal challenge in the courts.
Meanwhile, the President and his administration have focused on tackling root causes like corruption and poverty and the regional nature of the crisis in Central America. The administration recently touted new immigration commitments, including a smuggling crackdown, and sought to slash asylum processing times with a new rule after the recent Summit of the Americas.
Recently, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas claimed that the border is “secure” — an opinion not shared by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who declined to endorse the statement. Instead, Wray described “significant security issues” ongoing at the border.