CBP released its latest numbers this week on Border Patrol apprehensions at the Southwest border for August. Those statistics reveal that illegal entries continued on a blistering pace last month, during a time of year when they should be falling. Worse is the news that expulsions of illegal entrants under CDC orders issued pursuant to Title 42 of the U.S. Code in response to the Covid-19 pandemic have fallen to their lowest level of the Biden administration. Biden feared two million illegal entrants, and those fears have become reality.
Apprehensions. Border Patrol agents at the Southwest border apprehended 181,160 illegal entrants in August, a .03 percent decline (605 apprehensions) from July. In prior years, there has been a significant drop as summer rolls on and the weather heats up at the border, but while there has been a slight decline in apprehensions of late, a major decrease has largely failed to materialize in the last three months.
(Some media reports may have slightly higher numbers because they include aliens with no right to enter the U.S. who were "encountered" at ports of entry; the numbers in the post are only those who crossed illegally between ports of entry and were "encountered" by the Border Patrol.)
Last month also marked the second-largest number of apprehensions at the Southwest border for the month of August in history (records go back to FY 2000). The largest number of apprehensions at the line? Last August, when agents apprehended more than 196,500 illegal entrants. When the only improvement in Biden’s performance at the border is compared to his own horrid track record, there are problems.
That said, expect the administration to trumpet these numbers as proof that it has “turned the corner” on bringing control to the Southwest border. Don’t believe it. The latest August numbers simply add to what was already a record number of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico line in FY 2022, boosting total Border Patrol “encounters” there to 2,231 short of two million.
By way of comparison, the pre-Biden record for Southwest border apprehensions was set in FY 2000, when agents nabbed just less than 1.644 million. That dubious record was set more than a year before Congress beefed up security at the border in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Biden’s Worst Border Fear. A month before he was sworn in, in December 2020, Biden vowed to "keep his pledge to roll back” what he termed “the Trump administration's restrictive asylum policies”, but cautioned that he would do so “at a slower pace than he initially promised, to avoid winding up with '2 million people on our border.'”
He instead almost immediately ditched his predecessor’s successful border policies, and rather than implementing promised “guardrails” on the border to keep apprehensions low, he broke with all of the former occupants of the Oval Office and abandoned deterrence of illegal entrants as a border strategy.
Consequently, more than two weeks into September, apprehensions have already easily surpassed the two-million migrant mark President-elect Biden claimed he feared. He has plainly gotten comfortable with the whole thing in the interim, however, because he shows no signs of changing his dreadful border policies.
Keep in mind, however, that CBP’s apprehension statistics do not include an estimated half-million-plus “got-aways”, illegal entrants who have successfully evaded agents and entered the United States illegally. Adding in those numbers brings the total to at least 2.5 million, roughly 150 percent more people than live in the president’s home state of Delaware.
Drop in Title 42 Expulsions. The sole Trump policy at the border that Biden kept in place was Title 42, which was actually a public-health, not a border, policy per se. In the early spring, however, Biden announced that he would be ending those CDC expulsion orders, too, on May 23, only to be rebuffed in this effort by a federal district court judge who enjoined that decision on May 20.
Even though that injunction remains in effect, the number of illegal entrants who were apprehended by Border Patrol and expelled under Title 42 has plummeted. In August, just 71,122 illegal entrants caught by agents at the Southwest border — fewer than 40 percent of the total number of apprehended aliens — were expelled under those CDC orders.
That is the lowest monthly total of Border Patrol expulsions under the Biden administration, trailing even February 2021 — Biden’s first full month in office — when 72,318 of the 97,643 migrants (74 percent) stopped by agents at the Southwest border were expelled. So much for respect for the federal judiciary.
The Effects Republican governors have been pushing the formerly overlooked humanitarian disaster at the Southwest border into the headlines by transporting small numbers of migrants (fewer than 13,000 at last count) who were apprehended at the border and released by DHS into sanctuary jurisdictions.
That effort seems to be having an effect. In a recent NBC News poll of 1,000 registered voters conducted between September 9 and 13, 27 percent of respondents stated that the United States is headed in the right direction, compared to 68 percent who believed it was “off on the wrong track”.
When asked why they believed the country was on the wrong track, 16 percent said that it was because of “border control/illegal immigration”, tied for the second leading reason with “divided nation/political division”. Not surprisingly, “economy/inflation” was in the top spot among those who believe that the United States is headed south, with 41 percent identifying it as the reason for the nation’s ills.
Notably, illegal immigration and the border came out ahead of “Joe Biden” and “gas prices” (tied at 14 percent of wrong-track respondents ), “crime/violence/killings” (13 percent), and “women’s reproductive rights debate” (5 percent).
The November midterm congressional elections are just weeks away, and the president’s fellow Democrats likely wish the border would just go away. The latest CBP apprehension statistics reveal, however, that the border disaster is going nowhere fast. Odds of a GOP wipeout are diminishing, but if Republicans can capture one or both chambers, (1) immigration will be a leading issue why, and (2) Biden will likely be forced to erect his promised “guardrails” on the border, whether he wants to or not.