More Startling Takeaways from CBP’s Saturday Morning ‘News Dump’ Stats

A big reason why ‘immigration’ is surging as a concern for American voters

By Andrew R. Arthur on October 23, 2023

On Saturday, I analyzed much-delayed statistics for September that CBP published that morning on the number of aliens (1) apprehended by Border Patrol agents after crossing the nation’s borders illegally and (2) stopped by CBP officers in the agency’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) branch at the ports, collectively known as “encounters”. As September is the last month of the federal government’s fiscal year, that weekend “news dump” also summarized CBP’s FY 2023 encounters, as well. Those numbers, as I explained, revealed just how significantly border security has degraded under the Biden administration, but I barely even scratched the surface on how “truly wretched” they are. The bigger picture is likely why “immigration” has surged to second place among voters in the most recent polls.

“Family Units” Continue to Surge. Last month, Border Patrol agents at the Southwest border apprehended more than 103,000 illegal migrant adults and children traveling in “family units” (FMUs). As with many of the statistics in that release, it’s a new monthly record for FMU apprehensions, and a 10-percent increase over the old record, set in August.

That family unit surge is problematic for three reasons.

The first is border security. Nearly all those adults and kids were likely what is known as “give-ups”, aliens who cross the border illegally and either sit patiently and wait for agents to come and round them up or who seek out the first law-enforcement officer they can find to turn themselves in.

Next to unaccompanied alien children of tender ages, FMUs are the most difficult group for agents to deal with, and the one that soaks up the most Border Patrol resources. That’s because agents must carefully keep them together (lest they get sued) while at the same time segregating them from other, unrelated adult male migrants for their protection.

Nowhere is this fact better explained than in a March 2019 announcement by then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen declaring a “border emergency” in the face of an earlier family unit wave across the Southwest border. She explained:

In the past, the majority of migration flows were single adults who could move through our immigration system quickly and be returned to their home countries if they had no legal right to stay. Now we are seeing a flood of families and unaccompanied children, who — because of outdated laws and misguided court decisions — cannot receive efficient adjudication and, in most cases, will never be removed from the United States even if they are here unlawfully. The result is a massive ‘pull factor’ to our country.


Moreover, our agents and officers at the border cannot fulfill their critical national security responsibilities while also attending to the influx of vulnerable populations.

The second is the effect those family unit entries will have on the states and cities in which they will resettle once DHS releases them (as it will quickly in nearly all FMU cases).

As I have explained elsewhere, the migrant crises that northern cities like New York and Chicago are struggling to deal with are actually “family migrant crises”, exacerbated if not driven by a large number of single parents and dependent children.

The third problem — and likely the most significant from a humanitarian standpoint — is the trauma to the children who are being used by the adults in those family units and by the smugglers (who are encouraging them to bring kids along to be released more quickly) as “pawns” in these entry schemes.

That descriptor — “pawns” — is not mine: It was one of the key findings of a bipartisan panel of experts convened by the Homeland Security Advisory Committee to examine the impacts of illegal family migration in an April 2019 report. As they explained:

Migrant children are traumatized during their journey to and into the U.S. The journey from Central America through Mexico to remote regions of the U.S. border is a dangerous one for the children involved, as well as for their parent. There are credible reports that female parents of minor children have been raped, that many migrants are robbed, and that they and their child are held hostage and extorted for money.

Criminal migrant smuggling organizations are preying upon these desperate populations, encouraging their migration to the border despite the dangers, especially in remote places designed to overwhelm existing [Border Patrol] infrastructure, and extorting migrants along the way, thereby reaping millions of dollars for themselves and the drug cartels who also charge money to cross the border.

The month the panel issued that report, agents at the Southwest border apprehended fewer than 59,000 aliens in FMUs — 43 percent fewer than this past September. The misery of migrant children and the threats to them and their parents were only compounded by the increased flow last month. The only people who are benefiting are the smugglers and cartels, for whom “business” has never been better.

More Migrants Coming to the Southwest Border from Farther Away. Up until FY 2014, the majority of illegal entrants were single adults from Mexico. That year, the illicit population shifted as nationals of the “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras exceeded the number of Mexican nationals entering illegally.

For decades, immigration experts have broken down illegal aliens into Mexican nationals and “other than Mexican” or “OTM”, arrivals. The latest surge under Biden has created a new category, “other than Northern Triangle” migrants, or “ONTs”.

In September, 54 percent of the illegal entrants encountered by CBP at the Southwest border, more than 147,000 in total, were “OTM/ONTs”, coming from such countries as Venezuela (66,584), Colombia (13,634), Peru (4,333), Brazil (2,826), China (4,042), India (3,862), Russia (1,779), Turkey (915), and an ominous catch-all “Other” (16,475).

CBP identifies 21 countries that it considers as major sources for illegal entrants generally, and that “Other” category is “ominous” because it represents the 170-plus countries that haven’t made that list — yet.

Needless to say, the further that an alien travels to enter the United States illegally, the more difficult it is for DHS to remove them. Mexicans can simply be turned around and sent back, whereas sending a migrant back to China may involve years of litigation and a very sensitive diplomatic dance.

Consequently, few of those OTM/ONTs are going anywhere anytime soon, which — to paraphrase Nielsen — creates “a massive ‘pull factor’ to our country” for their fellow countrymen.

On his first day in office, President Biden issued Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government”, in which he stated: “Equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy, and our diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths.”

Few likely realized at the time that Biden intended to create “equal opportunity” for every foreign national in the world to come to the United States illegally, or to “diversify” the migrant flow in this manner. But that’s plainly how this has all worked out, as CBP encountered nearly 300,000 “Other” nationals in FY 2023 — a more than four-fold increase compared to FY 2020 (47,473).

More Than 50,000 Russians. Of all those OTM/ONT encounters in FY 2023, one nationality really sticks out: Russians.

In total, between Border Patrol apprehensions and inadmissibles at the ports, CBP encountered more than 57,000 nationals of Russia, nearly 10 times as many as in FY 2020 (5,946).

Border Patrol apprehensions accounted for 7,397 of those encounters (almost exclusively at the Southwest border, but seven at the Northern border with Canada), while OFO officers were responsible for the lion’s share, nearly 50,000 other Russian nationals.

And here’s where it gets really interesting, as about 72 percent of those OFO encounters (35,820) were at the Southwest border ports, and .7 percent (385) came in from Canada.

That leaves 13,561 (27.2 percent) who were stopped by CBP officers in OFO at the coastal and interior airports of entry, almost exclusively the latter.

How in the world, with the United States sending $46.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine between January 2022 and July 2023 to fight the Russian invasion of that country, did more than 13,000 Russian nationals manage to board flights to the United States without proper papers to be allowed in?

Plainly there is a difference between the Vladimir Putin-led government in Moscow and the Russian people themselves (a distinction Americans only seem to make in wartime), but does anyone really trust Putin to provide U.S. officials with the valid information CBP needs to vet nearly 50,000 of his own nationals who came here illegally?

For what it’s worth, the same could be said about the tens of thousands of Chinese and Venezuelans encountered by CBP in FY 2023, but we’re not actively funding billions of dollars in weapons systems to be used against the governments in Beijing or Caracas.

I Could Go On. I could go on with the bad news CBP dumped on the American people during its novel Saturday morning “ring and run”, including that Border Patrol agents continue to encounter historically huge numbers of unaccompanied alien children at the Southwest border (131,519, including 22 from Russia, in FY 2023), or that nearly all of these aliens are give-ups and that these statistics don’t include hundreds of thousands of migrants detected entering illegally but who evaded apprehension (known as “got-aways”) in FY 2023.

Suffice it to say that the administration’s disaster at the Southwest border is getting worse, even as costs to Americans continue to pile up. That’s likely why 27 percent of respondents in the most recent Harvard/Harris poll of 2,116 registered voters identified “immigration” as the “most important issue facing the country today” — second only to “price increases/inflation” (32 percent) and up three points from last month.