Border encounters this Fiscal Year are higher than the population of 11 states (and Washington, DC)

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

As you probably know, the number of border encounters reported by Customs and Border Protection for FY21 currently stands at 1.54 million. As Rep. Michael Guest pointed out yesterday during a congressional hearing with DHS Secretary Mayorkas, that’s more than the population of several states:

During the hearing, Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) pointed to apprehension data from US Customs and Border Protection that showed the steady increase and compared the numbers to several states’ total populations.

“That number is greater than the population of Montana, greater than the population of Rhode Island, greater than population of Delaware, population in both North and South Dakota, greater than the population of Alaska, though not a state population, the District of Columbia is better than the population of Vermont, it is greater than the population of Wyoming,” he said…

“I think clearly, these figures show that what we are doing along our southwest border, what the current administration has done, that that’s not working,” Guest said, asking Mayorkas if he stands by his previous statements that the situation at the border is under control.

Rep. Guest was only considering the border encounters for this calendar year instead of the fiscal year so his figures were slightly different. However if you use the numbers for the fiscal year then you could add Hawaii, Maine and New Hampshire to that list above. You can find the most recent Census data here showing the current population of each state.

Of course, the fiscal year isn’t over yet. We still have to add the total for the month of September and given the current crisis in Del Rio, I think it’s safe to say that number is going to be pretty high. If it’s above 175,000 then FY21 is going to have the highest border encounter numbers since we started keeping records in 1925. We’ll know in about 2 1/2 more weeks.

Whatever the exact total, the point is that a) this is a historic crisis and b) the number of migrants involved is enormous. Even if 25% of those encounters were the result of recidivism (being removed and returning a few days or weeks later) you’re still talking about a huge mass of people, most of whom aren’t eligible for asylum, won’t be granted asylum but who will stay in the country anyway.

How many people are we talking about exactly? DHS isn’t saying. At a congressional hearing yesterday, Sen. Ron Johnson pressed DHS Sec. Mayorkas for the figures and he claimed he didn’t have them which seems pretty hard to believe. ‘How many people have you deported this year?’ is probably the most basic question Mayorkas should be able to answer. Instead he keeps repeating his talking points in a voice designed to make sure none of his answers wind up on the evening news. Mayorkas’ real skill as a politician is his ability to bore the listener in a matter of seconds.