On August 3, my colleague Todd Bensman reported that “July Apprehension Numbers Have Entered Historic Crisis Level” based on preliminary numbers. CBP’s official border statistics for last month are now out, and while Bensman was right in his conclusions, it's actually worse than the preliminary numbers suggested. Instead of 210,000 CBP migrant encounters at the Southwest border, the actual number exceeds 212,000, including almost 200,000 Border Patrol migrant apprehensions. Incredibly, the president’s border disaster — which was already bad — is getting worse, as illegal entries rose and expulsions fell.
For the previous three months, Border Patrol’s monthly apprehensions at the Southwest border were higher than at any point since April 2000. The administration has now broken that record set 21 years ago, when more than 180,050 aliens were apprehended. Now, you must go back to March 2000 (220,063) to find a month in which agents apprehended more aliens.
Of the 199,777 migrants who were apprehended by the Border Patrol after entering illegally in July, just 93,781 were expelled under CDC orders issued under Title 42 of the U.S. Code in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which date back to the Trump administration. That is a 9 percent decline from June, when more than 103,000 Title 42 expulsions occurred.
Worse, it is the first time this fiscal year that more aliens who entered illegally were processed under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and therefore largely allowed to remain in the United States, than were expelled under Title 42.
In fact, you have to go back to the first month Title 42 was in effect, March 2020, to find a month in which there were fewer aliens expelled than processed under the INA. Given the fact that the first Title 42 order was issued on March 20, 2020, however, DHS only had 11 days that month to commence expulsions.
In a March 25 piece in the Washington Post, three researchers from the University of California at San Diego, argued that “The migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border is actually a predictable pattern. Evidence reveals the usual seasonal bump — plus some of the people who waited during the pandemic.”
I’m sure they would like to have that headline back (it was changed once; it originally read “There's no migrant 'surge' at the U.S. southern border. Here's the data"), but one analysis therein puts the current border disaster into context.
They graphed the total number of apprehensions per month between FY 2012 and FY 2020, plotting the cumulative total number of apprehensions for each. That graph shows that over that nine-year period, apprehensions traditionally peaked in May, and declined sharply through the summer and fall months.
FY 2021 has broken that trend and shows no sign of slowing down. Apprehensions cratered at the height of the pandemic in April 2020 at just over 17,000 and have increased ever since.
There was a jump between September (57,674 apprehensions) and October (almost 72,000) in 2020, but apprehensions got into full swing following the president’s inauguration.
In February, apprehensions exceeded 101,000, the first month since May 2019 (when just under 133,000 apprehensions occurred) in which Border Patrol caught more than 100,000 illegal migrants.
May 2019 was at the height of that year’s “border emergency”, declared in March 2019 by then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen because the “system” at the Southwest border was “in freefall”.
If the system was in freefall in the summer of 2019, it’s a rocket pointed straight at the ground now, powered by Biden’s campaign rhetoric and his reversal of policies (like the Migrant Protection Protocols, “MPP”, better known as “Remain in Mexico”) instituted by his predecessor in response to that earlier emergency that had held illegal migration in check.
With two more months to go in the fiscal year, agents at the Southwest border have apprehended more aliens (1.276 million-plus) than in any previous year since FY 2000 (just short of 1.644 million). Of course, FY 2000 ended almost a year before September 11th, when Congress realized how vulnerable the border was and rushed resources and manpower there.
Every indicator in CBP’s July numbers is bad for the president and his policies. Apprehension records dating back more than two decades are being shattered while the one successful border policy Biden held over from the Trump administration — Title 42 — is in decline. Apprehensions have exceeded 100,000 and increased every month for the past five. That includes since May, after which they have traditionally declined. There is no “seasonal bump” this year, a fact the president has had plenty of time to realize. He hasn’t, which means that his policies won’t be changing anytime soon, either.