Early Voting, and Delayed Border Statistics

The polls are open, and CBP should just tell us that border apprehensions in FY 2022 hit two million-plus

By Andrew R. Arthur on October 21, 2022

CBP’s monthly statistics on the number of aliens it encountered at the Southwest border usually come out on or around the 15th of the month. The numbers for September — the last month of the federal government’s fiscal year—are almost a week past that mid-month date. Early voting has already started in about 20 states (depending on how you view it), including the Senate battlegrounds of Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Ohio, with immigration a hot issue in this year’s elections. What gives?

Record Apprehension Numbers. Although the Biden administration has yet to admit as much, the border is in crisis. In fact, it is beyond a simple “crisis”; it has moved to the sphere of much stronger descriptors, along the lines of “disaster”, “catastrophe”, or “calamity”. And “chaos”.

Border Patrol agents at the Southwest border apprehended a record number of illegal entrants in FY 2021, a dubious record that they had already broken for FY 2022 when July’s numbers came in on August 15.

While the White House can point to all the “root causes” for migration in the “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to account for the human tsunami at the Southwest border that it wants, as my colleague Todd Bensman has recently explained, “‘Root causes’ aren’t behind the migrant surge — it’s open borders”.

And he should know, because unlike President Biden and Vice President Harris, he’s been to the border of late, on both sides and well into Central America.

That “root causes” canard also misses the point that increasing numbers of illegal migrants at the U.S.-Mexico line aren’t from the Northern Triangle (“other than Northern Triangle” or “ONTs”), or from Mexico (“other than Mexico”, “OTMs”) — illegal immigration at the Southwest border has gone global.

More than 827,000 of the nearly two million aliens apprehended by Border Patrol at the Mexican border in FY 2022 through the end of August — 41.4 percent of the total — are OTMs/ONTs. Those migrants are coming to the United States from countries in South America, the Sahara, the Himalayas, and beyond. What exactly are the root causes of migration from Guadeloupe — a Caribbean département of France?

The open borders Bensman decries are the natural consequence of Biden’s immigration policies. Biden inherited what his first Border Patrol Chief, Rodney Scott, described in a September 2021 letter to Senate leadership as “arguably the most effective border security in” U.S. history.

Just short of a month before he took office, Biden vowed to “keep his pledge to roll back” what he described as “the Trump administration's restrictive asylum policies”, but asserted that he would do so “at a slower pace than he initially promised, to avoid winding up with '2 million people on our border’”.

That vow notwithstanding, Biden quickly ditched Trump’s successful border policies without erecting any “speed bumps” — let alone guardrails — to prevent illegall entries. Instead, in a break from all of his predecessors, Biden rejected all measures to deter foreign nationals from entering illegally — the keystone of any serious immigration plan — as a border policy.

Instead, as DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas explained on May 1, “the objective of the Biden administration is to make sure that we have safe, orderly, and legal pathways for individuals to be able to access our legal system.”

Put plainly, that means Biden’s plan isn’t to stop any foreign national from entering the United States illegally, but rather to ensure that every alien who does enter the United States illegally can apply for asylum, regardless of the strength of their claims, or even whether they come seeking asylum at all.

To that end, he has already cut more than 1.3 million illegal migrants loose in the United States, while about 900,000 others have evaded apprehension by overwhelmed Border Patrol agents and successfully entered illegally.

The Midterms. Early voting in the midterm elections to decide which party — Democrats or Republicans — will control the House and the Senate is well underway.

As USA Today explained on September 20: “Minnesota, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming were the first states to cast ballots on Sept. 23; Wyoming and Michigan allowed voters in their state to vote early by absentee ballot starting last month.”

As of October 9, voters in Maine could cast an absentee ballot, and in-person voting began in Nebraska on October 11 (although Californians could drop off their ballots by October 10), and commenced in Arizona and Ohio on October 12, Georgia on October 17, and North Carolina on October 20.

According to the RealClear Politics (RCP) average of most recent polls, in the Ohio race for U.S. Senate, Republican J.D. Vance holds a 2.5-point lead over Democrat Tim Ryan. RCP has incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock up over Republican challenger Herschel Walker in Georgia by 2.4 points. In North Carolina, RCP shows Republican Ted Budd with a four-point edge over Democrat Cheri Beasley.

And, in the senate race in the Southwest border state of Arizona — where illegal immigration is a key and salient issue — incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D) leads by 2.5 points according to RCP over Republican Blake Masters, with Masters closing the gap in recent weeks.

Those races are tight as a tick, and any news could tip the balance one way or the other — and with them control of the U.S. Senate.

The Two Million Milestone. The last CBP border encounter update was on September 14 (for the month of August), at which time Border Patrol had apprehended 1,997,769 illegal entrants in FY 2022.

Just looking at that seven-digit number makes your eyes glaze over. When it comes to immigration, the numbers become so overwhelming as to be meaningless. Until they hit a milestone.

“Two million apprehensions” is not only a milestone, its also a touchstone for how bad the Southwest border has become under the Biden administration. Note that it is such a bad figure that President-elect Joe Biden used it in December 2020 to describe the situation he didn’t want to be in at the Southwest border.

He will be, as soon as CBP releases its September statistics, formally if somewhat blandly captioned “Nationwide Encounters”. You know what will happen as soon as those numbers hit — most outlets will either ignore them or try to explain them away, while they will be a blaring headline for a select number of others.

What’s Going On? I want to underscore that I am not accusing anyone of either monkeyshines or shenanigans as it relates to the publication of the final CBP Nationwide Encounters figures showing how many illegal entrants Border Patrol apprehended in FY 2022.

With both sides hotly divided politically, and an air of distrust of our institutions generally (Gallup reported on October 18 that Americans’ trust in the media is near a record low, for example), however, it is incumbent on CBP to play this one straight. That’s particularly true given the attacks recently launched at CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus from inside the administration.

Somebody — Congress, the media, the administration itself — needs to explain what’s going on. The polls are open, but the border stats aren’t complete. We know that CBP will report that approximately 2.1 million-plus illegal migrants were apprehended at the Southwest border in FY 2022. The agency might as well just push “send” — for the good of the electorate and the Republic.