CBP Releases Bad Border Numbers in Friday News Dump

As I predicted, but wait until you get a load of the ‘Monthly Report’

By Andrew R. Arthur on August 21, 2023

I explained on August 17 that CBP’s statistics for the agency’s monthly Southwest border “encounters” — a broad term encompassing both aliens apprehended by Border Patrol between the ports and those deemed inadmissible by CBP officers at the ports — are usually released on the 15th of the following month, but were already late for July. That was, I posited, likely because preliminary reports suggested they were going to be bad for the Biden administration and its feckless border policies, and I predicted they’d appear in a Friday afternoon “news dump”, when few in the media were paying attention.

All of which happened.

The July stats appeared late on Friday, August 18, and were bad for an administration that had been taking ill-advised “victory laps” on prior months’ numbers. But wait until you read CBP’s “Monthly Update”, an attempt to put lipstick on this border sow.

Border Patrol Apprehensions. On August 1, the Washington Post published an article headlined “Border arrests surged in July, a blow to Biden migration plan”, which began:

U.S. agents made more than 130,000 arrests along the Mexico border last month, preliminary figures show, up from 99,545 in June. Authorities allowed an additional 50,000 migrants to cross into the United States in July, primarily through Biden administration programs allowing asylum seekers to schedule appointments at U.S. ports of entry using the CBP One mobile application.

The Post’s sources are plainly solid, because last month Border Patrol agents at the Southwest border apprehended more than 132,652 illegal entrants at the Southwest border. That was a 33.3 percent increase over June (when agents apprehended 99,539 illegal entrants at the U.S.-Mexico line), but the news gets worse yet.

Not all illegal entrants are the same, or present equivalent challenges for already overwhelmed Border Patrol agents. Border Patrol facilities were built in the 1990s and early 2000s, when nearly all migrants were single adults, and were never meant to hold more vulnerable migrants — adults entering illegally with children in “family units” (FMUs) or unaccompanied alien children (UACs) — for any period of time.

To accommodate an increase in UACs that began around 2009 and an FMU surge that started in 2014, Border Patrol jerry-rigged chain-link enclosures within its facilities to separate migrants by sex and age, while still providing visibility (for the agents) and air circulation (for the migrants).

That’s where the “kids in cages” trope that vexed President Trump came from, and as he would respond (correctly, but unartfully) whenever he was confronted about the issue, it was actually the Obama administration that had “built the cages”.

The number of single adults whom agents nabbed in July was just ever-so-slightly higher than in June — 62,446 compared to 61,537 — a modest 1.5 percent increase. Had the news ended there, it would have been manageable for an administration struggling politically with this issue.

But the news didn’t end there, as the number of family-unit apprehensions nearly doubled in July from the previous month, to more than 60,000 FMUs compared to just over 31,000 in June. In fact, with the sole exception of December (when there was another late-Friday-night news dump to hide the fact it was the worst month for total Southwest border apprehensions in history), July saw the largest number of FMU apprehensions in nearly two years.

Then there are the kids. UAC apprehensions at the Southwest border increased by nearly 50 percent in July compared to a month before. The same Joe Biden who famously begged Central American parents in June 2014 not to send their children to the United States in the hands of criminals and rapists has, as president, done nothing to slow their entries.

To quote the then-vice president:

These smugglers — and everyone should know it, and not turn a blind eye to it — these smugglers routinely engage in physical and sexual abuse, and extortion of these innocent, young women and men by and large.

And they profit from the misery of these children and teenagers; these desperate, desperate young people.

Perhaps those smugglers have seen the light, and are now like altruistic kindergarten teachers, leading their young charges with gentle and loving hands through the plazas of Monterrey while teaching the importance of sharing and respect and promising cookies and lemonade at the end of the trip. But I doubt it; if a Florida grand jury presentment is true, they’re still heartless bastards on their good days.

Inadmissible Aliens at the Ports of Entry. If the news at the Southwest border between the ports is bad for Biden, the situation at those ports is worse.

In July, CBP officers in the agency’s Office of Field Operations encountered nearly 51,000 inadmissible applicants for admission — a 13 percent increase over June, which had been the worst month for Southwest border port encounters in history, and a 177 percent increase over July 2022.

But I’m just getting started, because nearly 18,000 of those inadmissible aliens (35 percent) were Mexican nationals, that is, people who up to that point were living right next door. That’s, again, the largest monthly number of inadmissible Mexicans at the Southwest border ports — you guessed it — in history.

Mexico has a population of 128 million, and if you think it’s hard finding a parking spot at Trader Joe’s on a Saturday morning now, just wait.

And while Haiti’s not next door (it shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean), the number of inadmissible Haitians stopped at the Southwest border ports also hit new records in July, when CBP officers deemed more than 10,000 of them inadmissible.

That’s more than twice as many inadmissible Haitians as in July 2022 (5,027), and 20 times as many as in Joe Biden’s first July in office (531). Through the first 10 months of FY 2023, the number of Haitians encountered at the Southwest border ports is already nearly twice what it was in FY 2022 and almost 36 times what it was in all of FY 2021.

The CLAP Rule and the “CBP One App Port Interview Scheme”. Why, exactly, are so many migrants in families entering the United States illegally now, and why have Southwest border port encounters surged?

The FMU wave is being driven by perverse incentives in the Biden administration’s “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” (CLAP) rule, which was published on May 16 but backdated to May 11.

At least part of the CLAP rule is a half-hearted, ersatz knockoff of a similar Trump administration effort to bar illegal entrants who crossed the border illegally from seeking asylum here if they had not applied for that protection in a third country they had transited through on their way to the U.S. border.

The CLAP rule is “half-hearted” and “ersatz” because it’s subject to numerous “exceptions” (which USCIS has summarized in a “fact sheet” for the smugglers’ convenience) and because a presumption therein that illegal entrants aren’t eligible for asylum can be easily rebutted.

Most saliently, as my colleague Elizabeth Jacobs noted when this plan was still in its nascent stages, it includes a catch that “allows families to circumvent application of the presumption against asylum eligibility”. Apparently, smugglers can read, or at least have the ready cash to hire good lawyers.

The massive spike in port encounters, on the other hand, is being driven by a Biden administration initiative to funnel would-be illegal immigrants through the ports of entry, under what I term the “CBP One port app interview scheme”. Here’s how it works.

Foreign nationals in central and northern Mexico can download the CBP One app and schedule an appointment at a port of entry, ostensibly to make an asylum claim. They will then receive a date to appear at a given port, and are allowed to show up at any point during a 23-hour period.

At the end of June, CBP expanded the number of daily appointments from 1,250 to 1,450, allowing up to 44,950 aliens per month to participate. If that all sounds like allowing a massive number of inadmissible aliens to pre-schedule their illegal entries into the United States, that’s more or less how it’s been working in practice.

CBS News reported in mid-July that 133,000 aliens who took advantage of this scheme had been paroled into the United States as of June 30, and that was before CBP expanded the number of available daily slots. To its shame, CBP has not publicly confirmed that statistic and refuses to publish the number of port-encountered aliens it has released, but that figure is — if anything — likely low and climbing.

Combined, CBP encountered more than 183,500 aliens whom it processed under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) — which the administration refers to as “Title 8” in order to make it seem as effective as Title 42 was (it’s not) — at the Southwest border in July. That’s more than in any prior month in history, except December (199,026), again, the worst month for INA Southwest border encounters ever.

CBP’s July 2023 Monthly Update. Slow-walking bad statistics is one thing, but hiding what those statistics say is worse, and that’s exactly what CBP did it its July 2023 “Monthly Update”.

Total Southwest border encounters nearing new record levels? Here’s how Biden’s CBP spins it:

Total Southwest Border encounters in July, including individuals who presented at ports of entry with or without a CBP One[] appointment, were 183,503, a decrease of 8% from July 2022. Recidivism is down: only 9% of individuals encountered had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months. In July 2023, encounters at ports of entry accounted for 28% of Southwest Border encounters, compared to 9% in July 2022.

There’s a lot missing there, starting with the fact that 77,706 of those July 2022 encounters (39 percent) resulted in a Title 42 expulsion, whereas no aliens encountered at the Southwest border last month were expelled under Title 42 (which ended on May 11). Factor that in and Title 8 encounters were 50 percent higher in July than they had been during the same month one year prior.

And the part about 28 percent of July 2023 encounters being at the ports compared to 9 percent one year prior is intended to lead the unwary to think that entering illegally through the ports is somehow more “legal” than entering illegally between them. It’s not, as I have explained in depth in the past.

Finally, trumpeting a 9 percent recidivism rate is a prime example of “presentism”. Border Patrol’s recidivism rate in FY 2019 — a year so bad the Trump administration declared a “border emergency” and in response to which it did not have the benefit of Title 42 — was 7 percent. If the Biden administration didn’t simply wave massive numbers of encountered aliens into the country, the recidivism rate would have been higher, but even then, it’s still high.

FMU apprehensions surging? CBP simply ignores that massive issue and offers this:

While total encounters increased from June to July, encounters of Single Adults between ports of entry remained flat which is indicative of the success of our work to maximize the use of Expedited Removal after the end of the Title 42 public health Order, which was initially focused primarily on Single Adults. Additionally, the U.S. Border Patrol encountered fewer single adults on the Southwest Border in the entire month of July than it did in the early days of May prior to the lifting of Title 42.

Again, comparing its current single adult illegal entries to its own dismal past performance is about the only card that the Biden administration has to play, but the monthly update should be a sober assessment of the state of the border, not a game of smoke, mirrors, and deflection.

And as for Border Patrol’s use of expedited removal — a critical tool Congress gave DHS to secure the border by allowing it to deport illegal entrants quickly — they actually fell 23 percent in July compared to May, to just over 18,000 cases from nearly 23,400.

Then, there’s the following:

Since the appointment scheduling function in CBP OneTM was introduced in January 2023 through the end of July, more than 188,500 individuals have successfully scheduled appointments to present at a port of entry using CBP One. The top nationalities who have scheduled appointments are Haitian, Mexican, and Venezuelan.

Anecdotal reports suggest that nearly all aliens who engage in the CBP One app port interview scheme are released, which again suggests that the CBS News parole numbers are low. So why, exactly, is the administration waving in a virtually unlimited number of Mexican nationals under that scheme?

The administration claims that this scheme is only being used to screen would-be migrants for asylum claims, but DOJ statistics reveal that just 4 percent of Mexican asylum claims are granted, compared to a 33 percent grant rate for Venezuela (Haitians don’t fare much better, with a 5 percent grant rate).

That all raises the question of what screening — if any — is occurring with respect to aliens who use the CBP One app port interview scheme — a question the administration refuses to answer.

CBP’s July Southwest border statistics reveal that the Biden administration’s recent border security initiatives are worthless, and that the White House is doing nothing more than continuing to funnel aliens with no right to be here into the United States. That’s bad, but not as bad at the fact that the administration is actively — and borderline ludicrously — trying to hide the disaster from you.