He did it! 2 million for 2021 as border encounters were up again in December

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The record number of border encounters in Fiscal Year 2021 totaled just over 1.7 million. But three full months of FY21 (and part of January) were still the Trump administration so it’s not really fair to blame those figures on President Biden. What matches more closely to Biden’s responsibility is calendar year 2021. So how did that turn out? The numbers for December still haven’t been publicly released by Customs and Border Protection which as Bill Melugin pointed out today, is odd.

But it seems the figures have been calculated, they just weren’t released. December’s numbers were another increase over November:

From Fox News:

According to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data provided in the Jan 14 filing, there were 178,840 migrant encounters in December, up from 173,620 in November. That in turn was an increase from the 164,753 apprehensions in October.

Those numbers are drastically higher than the previous year, when there were 72,113 encounters in November and 73,994 in December…

Of the 178,840 apprehensions, 78,589 were expelled via Title 42 — the Trump era public health order that has been kept in a limited capacity and can be used to expel migrants quickly at the southern border.

The documents also show that 55,626 migrants were released into the U.S. Of those, 36,652 were released on an order of recognizance with a Notice to Appear at an eventual court hearing. Meanwhile, nearly 19,000 were given humanitarian parole — which is used on a “case by case basis” for an urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reason.

While the numbers last month are bad, the more significant figure is the total for calendar year 2021 which passed 2 million:

That exact figure for 2021 is 2,033,863. Why is that significant? Because back before he took office, president-elect Biden said he wanted his border policy to avoid one particular outcome. Here’s what the AP reported on December 22, 2020. [emphasis added]

President-elect Joe Biden says it will take months to roll back some of President Donald Trump’s actions on immigration, tempering expectations he generated during his campaign and one that may rile advocates pushing for speedy action on the issue.

His Tuesday comments echo those made by two of his top foreign policy advisers in an interview with Spanish wire service EFE on Monday hitting the brakes on rolling back Trump’s restrictive asylum policies. Susan Rice, Biden’s incoming domestic policy adviser, and Jake Sullivan, his pick for national security adviser, as well as Biden himself, warned that moving too quickly could create a new crisis at the border.

Speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware Wednesday, Biden said he’s already started discussing the issues with the Mexican president and “our friends in Latin America” and that “the timeline is to do it so that we in fact make it better not worse.”

“The last thing we need is to say we’re going to stop immediately, the access to asylum, the way it’s being run now, and then end up with 2 million people on our border,” Biden said.

Here we are a year later and there were almost exactly two million people at the border. I suspect there will be plenty of people in the media eager to look away from this outcome, but there’s really no excuse (except blind partisanship) to do so. The Biden administration hasn’t just failed in historical terms, it has failed according to the words out of Biden’s own mouth. And reading backward through that AP story, that means he and his administration did not move slowly enough when trying to undo President Trump’s border policies. Even Sec. Mayorkas admitted the situation was “unsustainable.

Indeed, things could have been even worse. Biden’s administration said last year it would end Title 42, the Trump-era provision under which most of these migrants have been removed from the country. But there was a sudden change of heart about that last July as the numbers were spiking. President Biden also did his best to end Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy last year but was ordered to reinstate it by a court. So having once called the policy “inhumane” he wound up making a deal with Mexico to bring it back.

Finally, perhaps the most amazing symbol of this failure is the fact that despite all of this, President Biden has yet to make a visit to the border. In fact he has never made a visit to the border in his entire career. The closest he came was a 2-minute-drive near the border in 2008 on his way to a fundraiser. At some point, the president should be expected to personally engage in this ongoing crisis rather than keep flying back to Delaware and hoping the media continues to ignore it?