EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Almost 2 million people entered the United States illegally during the 12-month period ending on Sept. 30, 2021, and the U.S. death from COVID-19 recently topped 800,000 for the year. Even though immigration and the coronavirus pandemic dominated the headlines along the border, the top story for the year came from a doughnut shop more than 1,000 miles from the border. Below are Border Report’s Top 10 stories and videos of 2021:

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Seema Verma, and Vice President Mike Pence listen during a news briefing on the latest development of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Biden administration removed a Trump-approved extension for Texas’ Medicaid program, explaining the federal government “materially erred” in granting the state’s request for a sped-up extension. A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services confirmed CMS erred in exempting the state from the normal public process, which the spokesperson described as a critical priority for soliciting stakeholder feedback and ensuring public awareness.

Agustin Peña plays the guitar and sings in Tijuana after leaving his home in Michoacan, Mexico, where he was under constant threat from cartels. (Jorge Nieto/Special to Border Report.

Agustin Pena had money, a large home, avocado groves and a packing plant in Michoacan, Mexico. He says he gave it all up to save his family. The avocado farmer from Michoacan, Mexico, lived under the constant threat from cartels. He and his family left everything behind moved to a Tijuana migrant shelter more than 1,000 miles from the life they knew.

In this March 19, 2021, file photo, migrants are seen in custody at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing area under the Anzalduas International Bridge, in Mission, Texas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

A little over a week after taking office, President Joe Biden issued executive orders significantly changing immigration policies set under the Trump administration. This included revoking an April 6, 2018, presidential memo by Donald Trump titled, “Ending ‘Catch and Release’ at the Border of the United States and Directing Other Enhancements to Immigration Enforcement.”

A photo of Ashli Babbitt, the woman shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to crawl through a door during the Jan. 6 riot. (Photo: Babbitt family)

On Jan. 6, 2021, supporters of President Donald Trump, fueled by his false claims of a stolen election, assaulted police and smashed their way into the Capitol to interrupt the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory, forcing lawmakers into hiding; most of the rioters had come from a nearby rally where Trump urged them to “fight like hell.” A Trump supporter, Ashli Babbitt, of San Diego, was shot and killed by a police officer as she tried to breach a barricaded doorway inside the Capitol.


After President Donald Trump asked lawmakers to increase the second stimulus check from $ 600 to $2,000 as the year came to a close, Democratic leaders began asking for a third direct payment of $2,000. For that reason, many were surprised when President-elect Joe Biden unveiled the “American Bailout Plan” that included checks for $1,400 instead of $2,000. To read Border Report in Spanish, click here.

A migrant family watches the sunset while waiting to be accounted for and taken to a border patrol processing facility after crossing the Rio Grande into the U.S. on June 21, 2021, in La Joya, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

As civil rights advocates advised local governments not to participate in Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s “border actions,” the governor issued a pair of requests in his effort to address what he called a “crisis at the border.” The governor’s office issued a statewide call for jailers to assist border sheriffs who could anticipate an increase in the arrests of undocumented immigrants. Abbott also urged counties to submit a two-year projected budget for possible reimbursements for expenses related to the migrant surge, money state lawmakers would be asked to approve.

A panga found on Mission Beach May 21, 2021 (KSWB Photo)
A panga found on Mission Beach May 21, 2021 (KSWB Photo)

An abandoned panga was discovered at Mission Beach a day after one person died and 10 others were rescued from another panga spotted off the coast of La Jolla. SkyFOX video showed the empty panga on the shoreline near El Carmel Place. A beachgoer reportedly found the boat and more than a dozen life jackets inside.

Agustin Pena had a home in the hills overlooking his avocado groves in Michoacan, Mexico. (Courtesy: Agustin Pena)

Agustin Pena said he was paying a cartel the equivalent of $2,500 per month to avoid them harming his family and employees. He told Border Report his brother was kidnapped early last year, and even though the ransom was paid, his brother is still missing. See No. 9.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent on Feb. 22, 2021, drops off a family of migrants with very young children at the Humanitarian Respite Center in downtown McAllen, Texas. Only families with “tender age” children are being released and allowed into the interior, CBP officials say. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

A confluence of immigration-related events created a surge of asylum-seekers in South Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation was increasing so rapidly, that additional U.S. Border Patrol agents were being sent en masse to the region to assist.

A doughnut shop left a bad taste in the mouths of some customers when they put out a sign blaming the coronavirus on immigration from Mexico. The sign was plastered in the front window of Doughboys Donuts, in the Kansas-City suburb of Raytown. The sign originally read, “Stop Importing COVID from Mexico. Unmask Truth.” It was then changed to read, “Stop Importing COVID Through Border. Unmask Truth.”

Top videos of 2021

  1. Wealthy Mexican avocado grower, 23 relatives granted permission to enter U.S., seek asylum
  2. EXCLUSIVE: 16-year-old survivor speaks about California crash that killed 13
  3. Kentucky ‘Dreamers’ expelled to Mexico after meeting relatives at border crossing
  4. Mexico beefs up security forces in Tulum resort following cartel shootout that killed 2 bystanders
  5. Border wall construction goes on in spite of Biden mandate to stop it
  6. Over 2,000 migrants march from southern Mexico
  7. CBP: Whopping 71% increase in migrant arrests in March from February
  8. DHS continues releasing busloads of migrants at overcrowded shelter, prompting urgent calls for pause
  9. Mexican soldier shoots American teen dead in Juarez; mother says witnesses dispute her son had pulled out a gun
  10. Mexico and U.S. said to be negotiating end to border restrictions, with vaccination requirements