The number of migrants arrested at the US-Mexico border has already exceeded last year’s record — and is on pace to top 2 million for the first time ever, according to the Biden administration.
Border Patrol reported 181,552 arrests last month, a 5.6% drop from the 192,418 reported in June. With two months left to go in fiscal year 2022, the agency has already made more than 1.81 million arrests — well above the previous record of 1.66 million over the 12-month period ending Sept. 30 of last year.
“We’re apprehending people left and right,” Border Patrol agent Jesus Vasalvilbaso told the Wall Street Journal.
The record-breaking numbers were released amid ongoing controversy over the governors of Texas and Arizona dispatching busloads of migrants to New York and Washington to protest the Biden administration’s border policies, which they say have led directly to the surge in illegal border crossings.
Faced with the unexpected influx of migrants seeking asylum, New York is planning to convert a luxury Times Square hotel as an intake center and shelter for hundreds of families, The Post reported on Tuesday.
More than 1.29 million apprehended people — 71% of those arrested by Border Patrol since Oct. 1 of last year — were single adults, who are most likely to be economic migrants without a valid asylum claim.
The number of migrants stopped at the southern border also declined for the second consecutive month, dropping below 200,000 for the first time since February. The July number of 199,976 encounters was down 3.8% from 207,933 in June and down 6.8% from 213,593 border stops in July 2021.
“While the encounter numbers remain high, this is a positive trend and the first two-month drop since October 2021,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement.
However, the agency also found the unique number of migrants encountered at the southern border ticked up 1% to 162,792. More than 43,000 of those encountered last month had already been stopped at least once in the previous year.
“I won’t give up,” Rafael Ruiz, a 54-year-old from Mexico who has already tried to enter the US three times, told the Journal. “I have nothing here.”
People from countries more likely to be released in the US on humanitarian parole or with notices to appear in immigration court were stopped more often last month. Border Patrol agents stopped Venezuelans 17,603 times in July, up 34% from June and nearly triple from July 2021.
Cubans were stopped 20,080 times by Border Patrol agents, up 25% from June and nearly six times from June 2021. Colombians were also stopped more often.
By contrast, authorities stopped Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans and El Salvadorans less in July than in June. Members of those nationalities are more likely to be expelled under Title 42, the Trump-era health policy that allows border officials to summarily expel migrants without first hearing their asylum claims due to the threat of COVID-19.
In theory, Title 42 applies to all nationalities but costs, diplomatic relations and others considerations usually dictate who is expelled under the public health authority. Mexico has agreed to take in its own citizens as well as those from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who are expelled under Title 42, a relatively easy task for Border Patrol agents due to Mexico’s proximity.
In total, just 37% of those migrants — 74,573 — encountered in July were expelled under Title 42. All but about 10,000 of those were single adults.
Lawmakers of both parties have blamed the Biden administration’s policies for the increase in border-crossers since the president took office in January 2021. Biden pledged during the 2020 election campaign to reverse Donald Trump’s more restrictive and controversial policies.
The Department of Homeland Security has since scrapped most construction on Trump’s ballyhooed border wall, reversed the “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum-seekers, attempted to end Title 42, and changed policy so that having entered the US illegally is not cause for deportation.
“What will it take for Joe Biden to address the devastation and death at the southern border he created with his open border agenda?” Republican National committee Chairman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement responding to the numbers. “Voters know this is Biden’s border crisis and they will make Democrats face the consequences in November.”
While Biden has repeatedly defended his administration’s border policies, the then-president-elect warned in December 2020 that any quick reform would trigger a rush of “2 million people on our border” — the milestone met last month.
“I’ve already started discussing these issues with the president of Mexico and our friends in Latin America and the timeline is to do it so that we in fact make it better, not worse,” Biden said at the time. “The last thing we need is to say we’re going to stop immediately the, you know, the access to asylum the way it’s being run now and end up with 2 million people on our border.”