Migrant encounters at the southern border soared past the 200,000 mark once again in August hitting a new high for the calendar year and marking the highest August on record — the latest sign that the raging crisis at the southern border is escalating despite a brief lull in the early summer.
There were 232,972 migrant encounters at the southern border in August, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on Friday afternoon. That is an increase from the 204,087 encounters in August 2022, and an increase from the 183,494 encountered in July and the 144,570 encountered in June.
It is the highest number of monthly encounters seen this year, although it is not the highest number seen this fiscal year — with both November and December 2022 seeing higher numbers. Of those encounters in August, which is the highest August on record, 181,059 were encountered by Border Patrol illegally between ports of entry.
“CBP remains vigilant in the face of ruthless smugglers and transnational criminal organizations who exploit vulnerable migrants, the same criminal organizations trafficking in lethal drugs that harm our communities,” acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement. “Our operational tempo along the border has increased in response to increased encounters, and we remain squarely focused on our broader security mission and enforcing U.S. immigration laws.”
“We are maximizing consequences against those without a legal basis to remain in the United States, including by processing more individuals into expedited removal than ever before. The men and women of CBP continue to work, day in and day out, to protect our nation, disrupting the entry of dangerous people and dangerous goods into the country while providing humanitarian care for vulnerable individuals,” he said.
The data brings the total migrant encounters for the fiscal year, excluding September, to over 2.2 million migrant encounters. CBP sources told Fox that, with September’s numbers so far, encounters for FY 2023 have already surpassed FY 22’s record 2.37 million encounters. Sources told Fox News on Friday that, with eight days left to go, there have been 2,388,350 encounters in FY 2023.
May and June saw a drop in border encounters after the ending of Title 42. The Biden administration attributed the drop to the implementation of a number of policies, including expanded “lawful” migrant pathways, a new asylum rule limiting who could claim asylum and the restoration of Title 8 enforcement.
But numbers have since shot up, engulfing the border in crisis again, and having knock-on effects in cities like New York City and Chicago — where officials and residents have called on the federal government to do more to help them deal with the influx.
There have been a daily average of around 9,000 encounters in recent days at the border. The surge was on display this week in Eagle Pass, Texas, where thousands of Venezuelan migrants surged into the area across the river, camping out under a nearby bridge — which forced a temporary shutdown of two bridges as agents struggled to cope.
The August numbers brought criticism from congressional Republicans, who criticized the administration for having tied the drop in encounters in June to its policies. House Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green again accused DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of a “dereliction of duty.”
“Secretary Mayorkas did not hesitate to spike the football in June, and given his record of misleading Congress and the American people, I fully expect he will try to pull a similar PR stunt with these numbers,” he said. “But don’t be fooled—cartel business is booming, and it will continue as long as Secretary Mayorkas insists on these radical open-borders policies. No amount of spin can change the fact that the American people are suffering the worst border crisis in our nation’s history. In fact, Secretary Mayorkas’ open-borders policies are actively undermining our homeland security and jeopardizing the safety of every American.”
Multiple Border Patrol Sectors have been conducting street releases to relieve overcrowding, while leadership has set targets for “bookouts” as they struggle to deal with arrivals.
Republicans have hammered the administration for the crisis, arguing that Biden-era policies — including reduced interior enforcement, greater “catch-and-release” and the roll-back of Trump-era border policies — have created and exacerbated the crisis.
The administration has said that it is dealing with a Hemisphere-wide challenge, which needs more funding from Congress as well as the passage of an immigration reform bill to fix what it says is a “broken” system.
This week the administration announced a number of measures, including increased capacity at CBP facilities, more personnel heading to the border and a redesignation of Temporary Protected Status for Venezuela — which will grant protection from deportation and work permits to around 470,000 nationals.
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