CBP’s August Numbers Reveal Border in Freefall, with a Massive Family, Child Migrant Surge

From ‘kids in cages’ to ‘kids in slaughterhouses’, and wait till you hear what Biden’s up to at the (FOIA redacted) ports

By Andrew R. Arthur on September 27, 2023

Early on September 22, I predicted CBP would release its border statistics for the month of August — which were predicted to be bad and which should have been published a week before — late on that Friday, in what’s referred to in D.C. as a “news dump”. That’s exactly what happened, though the numbers were much worse than had been anticipated, with CBP setting a new monthly record for encounters nationwide. Agents will be so overwhelmed stopping the largest family surge in history, and dealing with thousands of kids, that the drugs can flow right in — but wait till you hear what the administration’s up to at the ports.

“Encounters”. A common question I receive has to do with CBP’s use of the term “encounters”. The agency adopted it in FY 2020 to describe the sum of aliens apprehended by Border Patrol agents between the ports of entry plus aliens deemed inadmissible by CBP officers in the agency’s Office of Field Operations (OFO), with responsibility for those ports.

When the term was adopted, it was prescient but unnecessary because most inadmissible “applicants for admission” as section 235 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) describes them were illegal entrants apprehended by Border Patrol. In October 2019 — the first month of FY 2020 — for example, 35,402 of the 45,139 encounters at the Southwest border were Border Patrol apprehensions. The remaining 9,737 encounters were aliens stopped by OFO at the ports.

Southwest Border Inadmissibles at the Ports of Entry. Things have changed, but that’s largely because Joe Biden’s feckless policies and fain attempts to hide the scope of the border disaster have altered how aliens now enter the United States illegally.

In August, OFO encountered nearly 52,000 aliens it deemed inadmissible at the ports of entry — a new monthly record, and a 132 percent increase over CBP encounters at the Southwest ports in August 2022 (itself a 67-percent increase over August 2021).

Why so many OFO encounters at the Southwest border ports? Because in early January, with the end of Title 42 looming, the Biden administration decided to open the ports to would-be migrants by allowing them to preschedule their illegal entries there using the CBP One app, in what I refer to as the “CBP One app port interview scheme”.

In its “fact sheet” announcing this scheme, the White House describes those aliens as “seeking to enter the United States lawfully”, which as I later explained is legally fallacious, and also contended that this scheme would “allow for safe, orderly, and humane processing”, which is a blatant — and patent — lie.

You see, to use the app, those aliens must be in central or northern Mexico, which means that they must pay the same smugglers and grease the same cartels they would have had to pay and grease (respectively) to cross the U.S. border illegally. The only purpose of this scheme is obfuscation — it’s a shell game, and you’re the mark.

Border Patrol Southwest Border Apprehensions. I say “the only purpose is obfuscation” because the scheme was intended to drive down the only number that most in the media — and therefore most D.C. decisionmakers — focus on, which is Border Patrol apprehensions.

As many of my colleagues and I predicted, the scheme was likely to do that, but not for long. “Not for long” was about as long as I had expected, as in August, Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 181,000 illegal entrants at the Southwest border.

That was a 36.5 percent increase in apprehensions over July, which itself was a 33 percent increase over June, so the trendline is headed in the wrong direction at the Southwest border. But the numbers are even worse than that, and much worse than they appear.

Border Patrol keeps monthly apprehension statistics going all the way back to FY 2000, and prior to Joe Biden taking office in January 2021, agents hadn’t apprehended more than 181,000 illegal migrants at the Southwest border in any single month since March 2000, when they nabbed just over 220,000 aliens who had come illegally to this country over the U.S.-Mexico line.

August Surge in Family Units. While 220,000-plus illegal entrants is a lot, they were also fairly easy for agents to deal with because nearly all of them (98.2 percent in FY 2000) were Mexican nationals, almost exclusively single adult males who could be processed and returned, on average, in eight hours.

By contrast, just 21.8 percent (39,512) of the aliens apprehended at the Southwest border in August were Mexican nationals, and just 41 percent of all those apprehended were single adults. The remaining 59 percent were either adults entering illegally with children in “family units” (FMUs) or unaccompanied alien children (UACs).

More than half of the aliens apprehended at the Southwest border in August (51.4 percent) were in FMUs, 93,108 in total. Border Patrol FMU stats date back to FY 2013 (before that, alien adults knew it was stupid and callous to bring a kid during their illegal entries), and in the intervening 11 years, agents apprehended more than 80,000 aliens in FMUs just once, in May 2019 (84,486).

In response to that FMU surge, then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen declared a “border emergency” and Trump implemented the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as “Remain in Mexico”.

Biden quickly ditched MPP once he took office, and although illegal family unit entries across the Southwest border surged in response, agents still never exceeded that monthly 80,000 FMU threshold. Until last month, when they demolished it.

Family migrants are a nightmare for Border Patrol agents to deal with, as they require special care during transport and processing (CBP facilities were nearly all built to accommodate only single adults), and it takes — again on average — 78.5 hours for agents simply do the paperwork.

Consequently, few Border Patrol agents are actually patrolling the border. The result is a smugglers and cartel paradise. Texas state troopers under Operation Lone Star are attempting to fill the border void, but they’re doing so while fighting the Biden administration’s attempts to nip the operation in the bud.

Why are so many families coming now? Because, as my colleague Liz Jacobs explained back in May, the administration created a loophole for them when it (mildly) beefed up the asylum rules to slow the border flow. Smugglers are evil, but they are also plainly smarter — and more cunning — than the average Biden immigration staffer.

From “Kids in Cages” to “Kids in Slaughterhouses”. Those rules also included a carve-out for unaccompanied alien kids, which explains why Border Patrol’s Southwest border UAC apprehension numbers soared in August, as well. Last month, agents encountered more than 13,500 alien minors travelling alone, 7.5 percent of the apprehension total.

Border Patrol’s UAC statistics date back to FY 2009, and in the past 15 years, monthly UAC apprehension numbers only exceeded August’s monthly totals four times, all in FY 2022. The record was 14,929 in June 2022, and don’t be surprised if agents don’t beat it in September.

The Biden administration is exceedingly bad at dealing with UACs, having lost track of nearly 85,000 of them by April. The New York Times has created a veritable cottage industry of articles detailing how the migrant kids the administration has already released have subsequently been exploited in the United States, the latest being a September 18 piece captioned “The Kids on the Night Shift”. Here’s an excerpt:

More than 300,000 migrant children have entered the United States on their own since 2021, by far the largest such influx in memory. Most have ended up working full time, fueling a resurgence in child labor not seen in a century, with children living far from their parents and working illegally in all 50 states. At slaughterhouses, it is no longer only Spanish-speaking adults seeking jobs but also children, most of them from Guatemala, which is one of the most impoverished countries in the region.

Congress could stop this madness and exploitation, as then-President Barack Obama begged it to do in June 2014, but many there prefer to ignore it instead and demagogue those who try to end — or at least ameliorate — the carnage.

I got to experience those attacks first-hand, during a February 2019 congressional hearing titled “Reviewing the Administration's Unaccompanied Children Program”, but that was nothing like the obloquy then-President Donald Trump faced over his purported “kids in cages” policies when he tried to slow the UAC flow.

The Trump “kids in cages” trope was a canard, as I have explained, but as the Times’ reporting reveals, “kids in slaughterhouses” is a real and growing problem, one abetted by the Biden administration, and one Congress is failing to address — to its own shame and discredit.

“Nationwide Encounters”. And yet, the bad news keeps coming, because I haven’t even gotten to CBP’s total encounter numbers. Last month, the agency stopped more than 304,162 inadmissible applicants for admission nationwide, a new all-time monthly record.

Go to CBP’s “Nationwide Encounters” dashboard, and you’ll see a drop-down box that allows you to “Choose Region”. That drop-down box is defective, however, because it only allows you to pick between the agency’s operations at the “Southwest Land Border” and at the “Northern Land Border”.

That omits, of course, Border Patrol’s Coastal Border, but more importantly, also OFO’s encounters at interior U.S. airports. To get to those numbers, you need to do some math.

In August, CBP officers at the OFO ports nationwide encountered nearly 122,000 inadmissible applicants for admission — again, a new monthly record. Nearly 52,000 of those encounters took place at the Southwest land border ports, and almost 19,000 occurred at the Northern land border ports.

The remainder, 51,087 encounters, occurred at the Coastal ports and interior ports, nearly all of them at international airports within the United States. Again, in August, it’s a monthly CBP encounter record.

How, exactly, did nearly 50,000 inadmissible aliens manage to sneak onto planes that brought them to the United States? Simple — they didn’t sneak onto those planes at all; the Biden administration invited them in, under its “CHNV Parole Processes”, which the White House also announced in January.

Those processes allow up to 30,000 inadmissible nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to enter the United States monthly through interior ports, and as CBP explained in its “Monthly Update” for August, through the end of last month, “more than 45,000 Cubans, more than 71,000 Haitians, more than 32,000 Nicaraguans, and more than 61,000 Venezuelans ... have arrived in the U.S.” under CHNV — “over 211,000” in total.

As I explained in August, however, not only is CHNV parole facially illegal (20 states are suing the Biden administration in federal court in Texas to shut it down), but it is also “Ripe for Human Exploitation” by human traffickers and unscrupulous employers.

The states must be hoping the judge acts quickly, however, because the CBP Monthly Update also reports that, “more than 47,000 Cubans, more than 84,000 Haitians, more than 39,000 Nicaraguans, and more than 68,000 Venezuelans have been vetted and authorized for travel” — 238,000 brand-new aliens who will be denied admission but allowed to enter the country under CHNV anyway.

Again, absent court order, you can expect CBP to set a new nationwide encounter record in September.

The Center’s FOIA Disclosures. My colleague Todd Bensman recently reported that — thanks to disclosures the Center received under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — we now know that about 99.7 percent of the aliens paroled into the country under the CHNV Parole Processes have been allowed to enter — calling into question how vigorous DHS’s vetting has been.

Go to the FOIA data for those Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans, and you’ll find that DHS refuses to tell the Center — which means it refuses to tell you — the airports of entry at which those aliens arrived.

The administration is claiming a (b)(7)(E) exception to the FOIA disclosure rules for that airport data, which as DOJ has explained:

affords protection to all law enforcement information that "would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.

Respectfully, as a lawyer of 32 years’ experience, a former associate general counsel at the INS, and a former congressional oversight staffer whose experience has focused on “techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions”, the government’s refusal to disclose the airports at which those aliens were allowed to enter is pure hogwash.

Instead, the Biden administration doesn’t want you to know its migrant crisis has now spread beyond big cities like New York and Chicago to impose its costs on burgs and towns across the Republic.

In any event, I agree with Bensman’s assessment of how lax this vetting has been, but the remaining 0.31 percent of those CHNV aliens who were denied entry also raises the question of how thoroughly USCIS is vetting those aliens before they’re allowed to come here.

As Bensman notes, 698 of the aliens USCIS purportedly “vetted and authorized for travel” to the United States were stopped just before they entered. Click on the FOIA document Bensman references and you’ll see that 185 Cubans, 156 Haitians, 103 Nicaraguans, and 254 Venezuelans were purportedly vetted by USCIS, flew to the United States, and were barred by CBP from entering at ports of entry.

How could that have happened? What did OFO’s CBP officers discover at the ports that USCIS failed to find before those aliens traveled to the United States?

We — meaning you — have no idea, because once again, the administration slapped a “(b)(7)(E)” FOIA disclosure exemption on the (12 separate) “ineligibility reasons” for each nationality.

Logically, those “ineligibility reasons" are grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a) of the INA, and while those aliens are plainly inadmissible — because they lack proper admission documents, they would be public charges, or they’re coming to work without proper labor certifications — Biden’s DHS has already ignored those obvious ones in granting them parole.

That leaves just a handful of other grounds of inadmissibility — health-related, criminal, security- and terrorist-related, smuggling — left. How in the world did USCIS not catch those aliens before it gave them the parole documents that allowed them to board airliners to the United States?

Is USCIS allowing aliens with tuberculosis, murderers, rapists, spies, or terrorists to come here? I have no idea, because the administration won’t tell me, all in the interest of somehow protecting law-enforcement techniques. I hope that hog’s plenty dirty because I have a fresh bucket of wash for him.

The Worst Is Yet to Come. Long story short: CBP’s nationwide August alien encounter numbers are the worst in history in every possible way — total encounters, Southwest port encounters, Border Patrol family apprehensions — with increasing numbers of kids showing up alone, widening gaps for cartel exploitation, and the White House’s responses all failing. All thanks to President Joe Biden, and his immigration brain trust.