Migrant encounters at the southern border hit the highest ever number for October last month, with more than 240,000 people encountered, officials announced on Tuesday — despite a slight decrease in numbers from September.
There were 240,988 encounters at the border in October, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said. That’s higher than the 231,529 recorded in October last year and the 164,837 encountered in 2021. In Oct 2020, there were just 71,929 encounters.
The number is down from the 269,735 encounters in September, which marked the highest monthly total ever. FY 23 saw a record 2.4 million encounters overall.
The latest numbers show that, despite a broad strategy in place from the Biden administration after the end of Title 42 in May that it says combines “consequences” for illegal entry with expanded lawful pathways, numbers remain stubbornly high.
In a release, CBP said it remains “steadfast” in enforcing immigration laws, including with new technology and resources, as well as greater use of authorities like Expedited Removal and an asylum rule which limits asylum claims for those who have crossed illegally. The administration also started deportation flights directly to Venezuela last month, a move it says is already having an effect.
“In conjunction with our resumption of removal flights to Venezuela consistent with delivering consequences for those who cross the border unlawfully, CBP saw a 65 percent decrease in southwest border encounters of Venezuelans in the second half of October, compared to the second half of September,” acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement.
He also pointed to a 14% decrease in illegal entries between ports of entry between September and October, and an overall decrease in family units.
Republicans have blamed the ongoing migrant crisis on the Biden administration’s border policies — particularly its rolling back of Trump-era border wall construction, a greater use of humanitarian parole and a reduction of interior enforcement. The Biden administration has said it needs comprehensive immigration reform and more funding to fix a “broken” system. Most recently the White House requested $14 billion for border operations.
“The President’s supplemental budget request is critical to funding the frontline, and would provide much-needed personnel, resources, and technology to go after transnational criminal organizations, enhance border security – including the enforcement of consequences for those who break the law – and support state and local partners, all to keep Americans safe,” Miller said.
The call for more funding and immigration reform is one that Republicans have dismissed. In an interview with Fox News Digital on Tuesday, House Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green called it “the biggest lie I have ever heard.”
“The resources were the same in the previous administration. The dollars were the same, and the immigration laws were the same. The problem is that they broke the system by undoing the policies that had been implemented by the previous administration,” he said, pointing to the rollback of policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). “So it is a big lie to say they need more resources or that immigration laws need to be fixed–they’re not even following the immigration laws that are in place right now, so why would Congress just pass more law if they’re not going to follow it anyway? So that is a fallacy, it is a talking point so that they can continue their open border.”
In terms of the greater use of parole by the administration, the agency says that 44,000 migrants were paroled into the U.S. in October using the CBP One app, which allows migrants to schedule appointments at ports of entry. There have been nearly 324,000 appointments scheduled on the app since January.
Meanwhile, there were 13 Border Patrol arrests of people on the terror watchlist in October, 12 at the southern border and one at the northern border.
The numbers come a day after Republicans in the House failed in an attempt to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Eight Republicans joined with Democrats in voting to table the measure to impeach the secretary for his handling of the border crisis.