CBP: Border apprehensions set new record in December -- by over 100K

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Small wonder that the Department of Homeland Security dragged its heels in publishing their report on Customs and Border Patrol activity in December. Late yesterday, DHS finally released the delayed CBP report, which showed the border crisis still at fever pitch. Apprehensions blew by the previous record for Decembers by over 100,000 and showed the border surge still increasing in terms of “unique individuals” month-on-month:

The large number of expulsions during the pandemic has contributed to a higher-than-usual number of migrants making multiple border crossing attempts, which means that total encounters somewhat overstate the number of unique individuals arriving at the border.

  • CBP encountered an average of 5,769 individuals a day at the Southwest border in December 2021, a slight decrease from the November 2021 daily average.
  • The number of unique individuals encountered in December 2021 was 135,040, a 5 percent increase in the number of unique individuals encountered the prior month.
  • In total, there were 178,840 encounters along the Southwest land border in December, a 2 percent increase compared to November. Of those, 23 percent involved individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, compared to an average one-year re-encounter rate of 14 percent for FY2014-2019.
  • Two-thirds (64 percent) of encounters were single adults, with 114,993 encounters in December, a 4 percent decrease compared to November.
  • 78,589 encounters, 44 percent of the total, were processed for expulsion under Title 42. 100,251 encounters were processed under Title 8.
    • 68,347 encounters involving single adults (59 percent of all single adult encounters) were processed for expulsion under Title 42, with 46,646 processed under Title 8.
    • 10,005 encounters involving family unit individuals (19 percent of all family unit individuals) were processed for expulsion under Title 42, with 41,619 processed under Title 8.

The one bright spot would be a decline in the encounters with unaccompanied children (-14%), except that the 15% increase in encounters with family units somewhat negates it. That’s still 40% lower than in August of last year, but again in context that’s not entirely good news. That means that the large uptick in apprehensions is now back to family units and single adults, with two-thirds being the latter. Overall, the number of apprehensions has declined since a July peak, but it’s going back in the wrong direction again.

CNS News points out the scope of the December record, and also notes another troubling trend line in originations:

The headline figure in the data released by the CBP on Monday shows that total migrant encounters along the southwest border during December – irrespective of countries of origin – stood at 178,840, an increase of 141.6 percent from the same month in 2020, and up 340.8 percent from December 2019. …

The number of “encounters” with migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally at the southwest border, and coming from countries other than Mexico and the Northern Triangle, hit a new record high in December – 79,678 – more than ten times higher than the same month in each of the previous four years.

In December of 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017, the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encounters on the southwest border with migrants from all countries except Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador was 7,891, 7,504, 6,050, and 3,046, respectively.

In fact, just three months into fiscal year 2022, CBP apprehensions of migrants who are not from one of those four countries (188,193) is already approaching half of the number recorded for that cohort for the whole of FY 2021 (378,386) – and has well exceeded the figures for the whole of FY 2020 (53,615) and FY 2019 (116,760).

If this sounds like the border crisis hasn’t abated, it’s only because you’re paying attention, writes Nate Hochman at National Review. One year into Joe Biden’s administration, and ten months after Biden assigned Kamala Harris to take charge of it, what’s changed? Not much:

[T]he White House has done little to nothing to stem the tide of illegal immigrants pouring over the southern border. It’s been a year now. The hand-waving and excuses that Biden used to justify his failures at the border in the early months of his tenure are no longer possible to make.

Meanwhile, it’s been well over half a year since Kamala Harris — ostensibly the administration’s border czar — even visited the border. In fact, she’s only visited the border once: Her trip down south was in June 2021. Instead, the Biden–Harris administration continues to tout its white papers and policy proposals for stemming the tide of migration by addressing its “root causes.”

How’s that going for them?

Badly, that’s how, and this is just on apprehensions. How many more migrants have evaded the Border Patrol? How many have come into the US without our knowledge, and who are they? They may almost all be just hardworking folks who want to earn a living and support a family, but they’re breaking the law to get here, and that has economic and legal consequences. A few others might represent real security threats, however, and while that number may be low, it ain’t zero:

Law enforcement intercepted 14 illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border who were on the terrorist watchlist, a former top official said, more than the four stops that the Department of Homeland Security had disclosed.

U.S. Border Patrol agents stopped 14 noncitizens who were named on the terror watchlist and tried to sneak into the United States between October 2020 and August 2021, one month short of the entire fiscal year 2021, according to recently retired Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, who disclosed the number during a panel discussion at a Texas Public Policy Foundation conference in Austin this month and in a follow-up conversation with the Washington Examiner.

The terror watchlist stops in 2021 are significant because they are higher than in previous years. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, declined to comment or release data on terror watchlist encounters. …

House Republicans visiting the border in El Paso, Texas, in March 2021 said border authorities had told them that people on the terror watchlist “are now starting to exploit the southern border” as a result of the Biden administration’s lax immigration policies.

“People they’ve caught in the last few days [in Border Patrol’s El Paso sector] have been under the terror watchlist,” House Homeland Security Committee ranking member John Katko, a former federal prosecutor, said at the time. “Individuals that they have on the watchlist for terrorism are now starting to exploit the southern border.”

Now we know why DHS dragged its heels on releasing this data. The problem at the southern border is still at crisis levels and getting worse again. And this administration and Congress would rather focus on progressive hobby-horse agenda items rather than enforce actual federal authority and secure the border.