Enforcement encounters with migrants jumped to an all-time high at the US southern border last month, according to new data released Saturday by US Customs and Border Protection.
CBP’s total encounters along the border in September were 269,735, including 218,763 Border Patrol arrests at illegal crossing points, and another 50,972 expulsions at ports of entry.
The record monthly figure brought the total number of migrant encounters for the recently concluded 2023 fiscal year to 2.48 million, up from 2.38 million in 2022, and the highest of any year on record.
The surge in migrants attempting to enter the US underscores the scale of the humanitarian crisis at the border, and the political challenge it presents for President Joe Biden as he seeks re-election in 2024.
‘In response to high rates of encounters across the southwest border in September, CBP surged resources and personnel,’ said Troy A. Miller, the acting CBP commissioner, in a statement.
Enforcement encounters with migrants jumped to an all-time high at the US southern border last month. Pictured: Migrants cross over razor wire on September 28 in Eagle Pass, Texas
CBP’s total encounters along the border in September were 269,735, bringing the total number of encounters for the recently concluded 2023 fiscal year (black line) to 2.48 million
‘CBP will continue to remain vigilant, making operational adjustments as necessary and enforcing consequences under US immigration law,’ he added.
Miller called the scale of migration ‘historic’ and said CBP was working with domestic and foreign partners to address the issue and step up enforcement, including by ‘preparing for direct repatriations to Venezuela’.
The new data show Venezuelans became the largest nationality arrested for illegally crossing the US border last month, replacing Mexicans for the first time on record.
Venezuelans were arrested 54,833 times by the Border Patrol after entering from Mexico in September, more than double from 22,090 arrests in August and far above the previous monthly high of 33,749 arrests in September 2022.
Arrests of all nationalities entering from Mexico totaled 218,763 in September, up 21 percent from 181,084 in August and approaching the all-time high of 222,018 set in December 2022.
Venezuela plunged into a political, economic and humanitarian crisis over the last decade, pushing more than 7 million people to leave.
They initially settled in nearby countries in Latin America but began coming to the United States in the last three years, settling in New York, Chicago and other major cities.
The surge in migrants attempting to enter the US underscores the scale of the humanitarian crisis at the border, and the political challenge it presents for President Joe Biden
Immigrants wade through the Rio Grande while crossing into the United States from Mexico on September 27, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas
A U.S. Border Patrol agent holds a child from Venezuela as her parents cross through razor wire at the U.S.-Mexico border on September 27 in Eagle Pass, Texas
The Biden administration recently announced temporary legal status for nearly 500,000 Venezuelans who were already in the United States on July 31, while vowing to deport those who came illegally after that date and failed to get asylum.
It recently began deportation flights to Venezuela as part of a diplomatic thaw with the government of Nicolás Maduro, a longtime adversary.
On Wednesday, 130 citizens of Venezuela were removed on the first of these flights, according to CBP.
‘We are continually engaging with domestic and foreign partners to address historic hemispheric migration, including large migrant groups traveling on freight trains, and to enforce consequences including by preparing for direct repatriations to Venezuela,’ said Miller.
Republicans seized on the latest numbers as its leading presidential candidates have tried to frame the border as a major issue in next year’s elections.
‘This fiscal year may have ended, but the historic crisis at our Southwest border sparked by (Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro) Mayorkas’ policies rages on,’ said Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The Biden administration proposed about $14 billion for the border in a $106 billion spending package announced Friday and has insisted that any long-term solution requires help from Congress.
The White House proposal includes $1.6 billion to hire 1,600 new asylum officers and processing personnel, which could double the number of people working on asylum cases.
It also suggests $1.4 billion to add 375 immigration judges and their teams in addition to money for 1,300 new border patrol agents.
There is $4.4 billion for Homeland Security efforts, including increased funding for holding facilities as the administration works to quickly deport those who do not qualify for asylum.
‘The supplemental funding request announced yesterday would provide critically needed additional resources including additional CBP agents and officers to support our essential missions: from border and migration management, to countering fentanyl and keeping dangerous drugs out of our communities,’ said Miller.