EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Almost 2 million people entered the United States without authorization in the 12-month period ending on Sept. 30, the U.S. government reported on Friday.
Most of the 1.96 million migrants apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol and the Office of Field Operations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Fiscal Year 2021 took place at the southern border, where sectors like Del Rio and the Rio Grande Valley have been dramatically overwhelmed at times.
Land encounters on the southern border with Mexico rose to a record 1.74 million and typically involved Border Patrol agents apprehending migrants coming over the border wall or unguarded portions of desert from New Mexico to California, and those who crossed the waters of the Rio Grande. The other encounters took place on the northern border, airports and seaports.
The previous record for migrant apprehensions at the southern border was 1.64 million in 2000, and the next highest figure of 1.62 million was reported in 1986, the year the U.S. Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which led to the legalization and a path to citizenship for more than 3 million undocumented immigrants.
Troy Miller, the acting CBP commissioner, on Friday focused his comments on a slight monthly dip in apprehensions for the month of September when compared to August.
“CBP encounters along the Southwest border declined in September from the prior month, and a majority of noncitizens encountered were expelled under Title 42,” Miller said in a statement.
The agency says that repeat crossers – migrants who are apprehended, expelled and then attempt to come in again multiple times – are skewing the numbers. For instance, officials only identified 1.15 million unique individuals in Fiscal Year 2021.
No estimate was provided for “got-aways,” the thousands of migrants who evade detection and whose entry is thus never recorded. In some border communities like Sunland Park, New Mexico, the sight of migrants having come over the border wall and running into waiting vehicles has become nothing out of the ordinary, local authorities say.
“I don’t think this is a surprise,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said during a visit to El Paso on Thursday. “The Trump administration changed to policies that lower the number of illegal immigrants significantly. When the Biden administration came in, they completely went back to the old policies and accelerated this.”
He was referring to the rollback of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, which he and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sued successfully to restore, and to the halt of border wall construction, which is also under litigation now.
September data shows three out of four single adults encountered were expelled to Mexico under the Title 42 public health rule, but only one out of four families was sent back. The overall numbers for September show a 9 percent drop from the previous month, going from 208,887 to 192,001.
Encounters of unaccompanied children decreased 24 percent, going from 18,806 in August to 14,358 in September. The average number of unaccompanied children in CBP custody was 772 per day, compared with an average of 1,435 per day in August, the agency reported.
But the number of single adults is on the rise. More than half (59 percent) of migrant encounters in September involved single adults (113,030), a 9 percent increase compared to August.
In the El Paso Sector, the Border Patrol is dealing with a record surge in migrant stash houses – homes, apartments, trailer homes and even barns – where smugglers keep newly arrived unauthorized foreign nationals while they arrange transportation for them to the interior of the country.