Last month, for the second time in a row, illegal migrant apprehensions at the southern border exceeded 200,000. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports 208,887 encounters in August. This is a slight drop in apprehensions from July and the first decrease during the Biden administration. While any decrease is welcomed, a 2% drop over the more than 212,000 encounters in July isn’t enough to indicate a corner has been turned.
The August number of 208,887 is a 317% increase over last August – in August 2020 there were 50,014 apprehensions reported. Going back to August 2019, the number of apprehensions was 62,707. The numbers during the Biden administration have been historically high and continually alarming each month. Personnel on the ground are overwhelmed and resources are not keeping up with demand. The total number of encounters this fiscal year topped 1.74 million, according to the report released Wednesday.
Simply put, there is no end in sight for the Biden border crisis. This week two top officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have announced they are leaving the department. Perhaps some personnel changes will bring about enforcement of effective border security policy but we won’t hold our breath over that thought. As long as Joe Biden has little interest in securing the southern border and turns a blind eye to the chaos and destruction abandoning the successful policies of the previous administration brings, there is little hope for progress with border security. Even the top officials at DHS appear to realize it and are jumping ship now. Secretary Mayorkas says to expect more of the same in policy decisions from Biden.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the administration intended to continue with its border strategy, which he said involves rebuilding “safe, legal and orderly pathways for migrants,” improving processing, and going after smugglers.
“We have a plan, we are executing our plan and that takes time,” he said last month when he announced the July border numbers.
He also told Border agents in audio leaked to Fox News that the situation is “unsustainable.”
“A couple of days ago I was down in Mexico, and I said look, you know, if, if our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose and this is unsustainable,” Mayorkas said. “We can’t continue like this, our people in the field can’t continue and our system isn’t built for it.”
There is no real border strategy unless the strategy is to keep the border open, which is easy to believe with this administration.
Some statistics of note include the breakdown of who the migrants are. The report shows that the flood of single adults has slowed a bit but the number of families has increased.
Of those encounters, 49% were single adults, down 7% from July. Of the encounters, 44% were expelled via Title 42 public health protections put in place under the Trump administration and extended by the Biden administration.
The Biden administration has been expelling single adults and some migrant families under the order, implemented due to COVID-19, but has not been expelling unaccompanied children or migrant families with young children.
There were 18,847 encounters of unaccompanied children in August, down slightly from July, and 86.487 encounters of family units, marking a 4% increase over July.
The only bright spot is that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of forcing the Biden administration to re-implement the Migrant Protection Protocols, commonly referred to as the Remain in Mexico policy, that the Trump administration put into place. The partnership with the Mexican government allowed migrants to be sent back across the border to wait for an asylum hearing, thus giving relief to the overcrowding on the U.S. side of the border. DHS says it is working to implement the court order.
Further indication that Biden’s policies are not working is found in the number of migrants who are crossing the border after being turned back at least one time prior to re-entry. That number is up significantly from the numbers in 2014-2019. Twenty-five percent of migrants tried to re-enter the U.S. after being turned back previously. The rate of re-encounters reported by DHS in those years was 14%. Migrants do not fear the Biden administration and feel emboldened to come across the border with impunity.