EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – West Texas and New Mexico continued to be the nation’s epicenter for irregular migration in January, despite a nationwide decline.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection data released Friday show El Paso Sector border agents apprehended 29,719 unauthorized migrants in January – 1,300 more than those encountered in the Del Rio Sector and almost 8,500 more than agents in the Tucson Sector apprehended.

Even before January numbers were released, El Paso border agents were saying they are witnessing an unprecedented number of irregular border crossings in the region.

“We’ve been having a historic year in the El Paso Sector so far. We just closed the first quarter of fiscal 2023 with more than 162,000 migrant encounters. When you compare that to the first quarter of fiscal year 2022, with just 49,000, that’s an increase of 231 percent,” said Orlando Marrero-Rubio, spokesman for the Border Patrol in El Paso.

January CBP data, by Border Patrol Sector (CBP graphic)

Along the entire Southwest border, illegal migration was down 42 percent, with 128,410 U.S. Border Patrol migrant encounters in January compared with 221,675 in December. January represents the lowest monthly total since February 2021.

The Biden administration attributes the sharp decline to its new remote asylum application process for Haitians, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans. The program unveiled for Venezuelans in October and expanded to other nationalities in January empowers the Border Patrol to expel under Title 42 public health authority citizens from those countries who enter the U.S. between ports of entry.

“The significant decrease in Border Patrol encounters, well beyond what is expected based on seasonal trends, is indicative of the success of the measures announced by the administration on Jan. 5 expanding safe, orderly and lawful processes for migration, while applying consequences to those who do not avail themselves of those processes,” CBP said in a news release.

Encounters of Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans between ports of entry at the southwest border declined from a 7-day average of 1,231 on the day of the announcement on January 5th, to 59 on January 31 — a drop of 95 percent in three weeks

Data shows Title 42 expulsions in January nearly equaled the rate of Title 8 case processes (62,828 vs. 65,582) — which often result in the release of migrants into U.S. territory pending a court date. Still, since Oct. 1, almost twice as many migrants have been processed through Title 8 than expelled from the country under Title 42.

In El Paso this week, federal officials told Border Report they’re beginning to see a new spike in migration related to Mexicans trying to get to seasonal agricultural and construction jobs in the U.S.

The data for January shows 52,091 Mexicans were apprehended along the Southwest border, compared to 52,554 foreign nationals not coming from the Northern Triangle of Central America.