EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The number of times border officials encountered migrants fell from December to January, but it is nearly twice as much as the previous year.
New figures provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Friday show that nationwide Border Patrol agents and CBP officers encountered migrants 186,003 times in January, down from 205,685 in December. The number of encounters in January 2021 was 95,276.
At the Southwest border alone, border authorities encountered migrants 153,941 times. That represents a 14 percent decrease from the 179,219 encounters in December. Migrant encounters hit 78,414 in January 2021.
Of those migrants encountered along the Southwest border in January, the majority were single adults, with 113,132, a slight drop from 115,286 December.
The number of migrants encountered is bloated by the numbers of individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months. In January, “re-encounters” rose to 26 percent, nearly double the yearly rate from 2014-2019 (14%).
Additionally, the January figures show that more than half the Southwest border encounters — 78,486 — resulted in expulsion under Title 42, a public health order to prevent the cross-border spread of COVID-19. Officials also processed 75,455 of the January encounters under Title 8, which may or may not result in detention.
Encounters of unaccompanied children along the Southwest border decreased 26 percent from 11,893 in December to 8,777 in January. In January, the daily average number of unaccompanied children in CBP custody was 295, compared with an average of 704 per day in December, the agency said in a news release.
“CBP’s January Monthly Operational Update shows migratory flows decreased in January, with CBP personnel encountering 14 percent fewer individuals along the Southwest border than December. Most encounters in January were of single adults and a majority were expelled under Title 42,” said CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus.
Magnus added that, overall, illegal narcotic seizures decreased In January, though there was a substantial increase in fentanyl seizures. Border officials seized 65 pounds of fentanyl in January compared with 26 pounds in December.
“CBP continues to take important steps to improve our ability to interdict narcotics and keep dangerous drugs off our streets,” Magnus said.