All-Time Record for Southwest Border Apprehensions in FY 2021

In typical D.C. fashion, CBP drops border numbers on Friday afternoon

By Andrew R. Arthur on October 22, 2021

Late on the afternoon of October 22, CBP released statistics on the number of aliens apprehended at the Southwest border for September. The timing could be happenstance, but it’s common for bureaucrats to release bad news just before the weekend, and these numbers are abysmal. More illegal migrants were apprehended at the Southwest border in FY 2021 than any previous year there, ever.

Fortunately, the Washington Post has access (and cachet) that the average American lacks, and thus reported on leaked numbers Wednesday. I analyzed what I could based on that reporting the same day, and sure enough, the border is exactly the national security, humanitarian, and law enforcement disaster that the Post had suggested it was.

As I noted then, Border Patrol provides statistics on Southwest border apprehensions stretching back to the Eisenhower administration, in FY 1960. The previous high in that 61-year period was set in FY 2000, when Border Patrol agents caught 1,643,679 aliens who had entered illegally at the Southwest border.

That record didn’t stand a chance given the Biden administration’s policies of non-border-enforcement: In FY 2021, agents apprehended 1,659,206 illegal migrants, 15,000 more than the previous record at the Southwest border.

Reminiscent of Pravda, the old Soviet news organ, CBP usually follows up with an “Operational Update”, to spin the bad news. The apparatchiks in the Ronald Reagan Building (CBP’s D.C. HQ) must be working overtime to spit-shine this news, because no update has been forthcoming thus far.

I will note that Border Patrol’s total apprehensions exceeded 1.676 million in FY 2000 and 1.692 million in FY 1986 (total apprehension records date back to FY 1925, when there were 22,199), but that included all border sectors: Northern, Coastal, and Southwest. As noted, Southwest border apprehensions were fewer than 1.644 million in FY 2000, and totaled fewer than 1.616 million in FY 1986.

Total Border Patrol apprehensions at all borders in FY 2021 fell below those two previous records, but just barely: 1,662,167. That means that the Coastal and Canadian borders were relatively quiet last year (the Northern sectors accounted for just 916 apprehensions in all of FY 2021, and the coastal Miami, New Orleans, and Ramey sectors accounted for 2,045 more) — the real action was at the Southwest border.

Those Southwest Border Patrol apprehensions were on top of an additional 75,480 aliens who were deemed inadmissible at the Southwestern ports of entry in FY 2021 and stopped by officers in CBP’s Office of Field Operations.

In other words, these apprehension numbers at the Southwest border are as bad as they have ever been. Ever.

These apprehension statistics should be a wake-up call to the Biden administration that border policy changes are needed, stat. Of course, that assumes that operational control of the Southwest border — to halt the apprehension of drugs, contraband, terrorists, and illegal migrants into the United States — was their goal to begin with.