Under Biden DHS Has Released More Than 756,000 Southwest Border Migrants

Not counting more than 146,000 kids and 620,000 ‘got-aways’ — and the president has no plan to stop it

By Andrew R. Arthur on April 14, 2022

Back in November, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “estimated” that 375,000 illegal migrants encountered by CBP at the Southwest border were “still here” (read: released), as well as some 125,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs). Court-ordered disclosures in Texas v. Biden provide a better picture of DHS releases of illegal migrants at the Southwest border: By my count, there have been more than 756,000 of them since Joe Biden took office on January 20, 2021.

Texas v. Biden. Briefly, Texas is a suit brought by the states of Texas and Missouri in April 2021 challenging the Biden administration’s suspension of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, better known as “Remain in Mexico”). That matter was assigned to Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

On June 1, while that case was pending, Mayorkas issued a memo terminating MPP. That termination decision was rolled into the pending case brought by the states.

On August 13, Judge Kacsmaryk issued an order enjoining Mayorkas’s termination of MPP. Part of that order required DHS to report monthly on the number of CBP encounters at the Southwest border, the number of aliens expelled under public-health orders issued by CDC under Title 42 of the U.S. Code in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the number released into the United States.

Disclosures in Texas for FY 2021 Releases. We are now up to seven monthly DHS disclosures (the first filed in September) in Texas.

A review of those disclosures reveals the following: In FY 2021, beginning on the day (January 21, 2021) after Biden’s inauguration and continuing through September, CBP released 329,009 aliens who were encountered at the Southwest border either by Border Patrol or by CBP officers at the ports of entry — pretty close to Mayorkas’ estimate.

Of that total, 94,577 were released by Border Patrol on “Notices to Report” (NTRs) — basically a promise those aliens would turn themselves in at the local ICE office when they got to their final destinations in the United States. Another 154,165 were released by agents with “Notices to Appear” (NTAs), the charging documents in removal proceedings, meaning that, unlike aliens released on NTRs, they had at least received immigration court dates.

An additional 35,446 were released by Border Patrol on “parole disposition”, which apparently means that they were set free on parole — an extremely circumscribed authority Congress gave DHS to allow inadmissible aliens into the United States under section 212(d)(5)(A) of the INA. Those Border Patrol paroles began in August — calling into question whether that authority is being used as allowed given the large number of aliens paroled in a two-month period.

Of those FY 2021 CBP Southwest border releases, an additional 44,821 were by allowed out by CBP officers at the ports, all on some form of parole. Again, that large number of parole releases calls into question whether DHS’s parole power is being utilized properly.

CBP was not alone in releasing illegal migrants at the Southwest border in FY 2021. From January through September 2021, DHS released 120,930 aliens who had initially been apprehended by CBP at the Southwest border.

Of that number: 5,816 were released on bond, 80,010 were set free without bond on orders of recognizance, 3,266 received orders of supervision, and 31,838 were paroled. By contrast, ICE removed just 7,361 illegal migrants apprehended by CBP at the Southwest border in FY 2021.

As I have previously explained, “DHS Can’t Just Release Illegal Migrants at the Border”. While it could be argued that some, many, or all of the paroles were validly issued, “arriving aliens” apprehended by CBP without warrant (and few if any of those aliens were arrested on warrant) are not amenable to release on bond, their own recognizance, or orders of supervision.

This is an issue that the Supreme Court will be asked to resolve when it hears Texas at the end of April. But the Court’s prior judgments call such releases into serious question.

FY 2022 Releases. Border Patrol stopped issuing Notices to Report in September, but that does not mean it stopped releasing illegal migrants it had apprehended at the Southwest border.

In October 2021 (the first month of FY 2022 under D.C. math), agents released 17,760 illegal migrants on NTAs, a figure that nearly doubled in November (33,247). In December, agents issued NTAs to 32,836 aliens at the Southwest border and set them free on orders of recognizance, as it did for an additional 29,726 aliens in January and 27,364 in February.

Parole accounted for an additional 9,859 Border Patrol releases at the Southwest border in October, 5,669 in November, 18,270 in December, 13,275 in January, and 8,565 in February.

Fewer aliens are encountered at the Southwest border ports, but CBP officers there did their part to release illegal migrants into the United States: October, 3,619 paroles; November, 4,197 paroles; December, 4,520 paroles (3,816 with NTAs); January, 3,185 paroles (2,379 with NTAs); and February, 3,140 paroles (2,361 with NTAs).

Some 12,011 aliens were apprehended by CBP at the Southwest border and released by ICE in October 2021, as were 39,404 aliens in November; 19,173 in December; 16,387 in January; and 15,974 in February.

Totals and Missing Statistics. If I were good at math, I would not have gone to law school, but by my calculations, DHS has released 756,109 illegal migrants who were encountered by CBP at the Southwest border (both at the ports and between them) since the day after Joe Biden took office.

If they all resided in one city, it would be the 20th largest in the United States — much larger than Las Vegas (population: 675,592), Nashville (682,262), or Boston (696,959).

Put differently, DHS released more illegal migrants at the Southwest border in the 13 months and 10 days between January 21, 2021, and February 28, 2022, than Border Patrol agents apprehended there in FY 2015 (331,333) and FY 2016 (408,870) combined. This is not “open borders”, or “catch and release”; it is “no border” with federal travel assistance.

Of course, even those releases do not paint the full picture. Since February 2021, CBP has encountered more than 157,267 UACs at the Southwest border who were not Mexican or Canadian nationals.

Under a poorly considered and extremely flawed 2008 law, DHS is required to send UACs from such “non-contiguous” countries to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 72 hours for “placement” with “sponsors” (usually their parents or a close family member) in the United States.

That HHS does an “uneven” job of keeping track of those kids is well established (HHS under the Biden administration has lost nearly 20,000 of them), but between January 20, 2021, and February 7, 2022, HHS placed (again, read: “released”) 146,248 unaccompanied children with sponsors in the United States. That brings the total Biden Southwest border releases to over 900,000.

Of course, the “unknown unknown” in all of this is the number of “got-aways”, illegal migrants who successfully evaded Border Patrol apprehension. Because they “got away”, we can really only estimate how many of them there have been since Biden’s inauguration (or what their intentions were when they came here), but best estimates are that there were about 400,000 aliens who made it past agents and into the United States in FY 2021 and another 220,000 between October and the end of February.

That now brings the total to more than 1.5 million new illegal entrants over the Southwest border under the Biden administration — bumping that population into the eighth spot for largest cities in the United States, beating out San Jose (1.036 million), Dallas (1.4 million), and San Diego (1.469 million), and nipping at the heels of number seven San Antonio (1.579 million).

The next disclosure numbers are due in Texas by April 15, and by then the number of illegal migrants who have moved into the United States since Joe Biden took office will well exceed the population of the “Alamo City”, and the “City of Brotherly Love” (Philadelphia, population 1.590 million), too.

Biden Has No Plan. By the way, the border apprehension numbers for FY 2015 and FY 2016 reflect the fact that the Obama administration understood the importance of border security, and of discouraging illegal entrants. That makes sense, because as former President Obama explained in September:

Immigration is tough. It always has been because, on the one hand, I think we are naturally a people that wants to help others. And we see tragedy and hardship and families that are desperately trying to get here so that their kids are safe, and they're in some cases fleeing violence or catastrophe. ... At the same time, we're a nation state. We have borders. The idea that we can just have open borders is something that ... as a practical matter, is unsustainable.

Obama is right — “open borders is something that as a practical matter is unsustainable”. And anything that is “unsustainable”, by definition, cannot be sustained.

Towns and cities across the United States have to bear the burdens that such a massive wave of illegal immigration leaves in its wake, including increased school enrollments of tens of thousands of students for whom English is a foreign language, overcrowded emergency rooms that unauthorized aliens often use for primary care, and strained public services.

The New York Times reported on April 9 that there are significant “disagreements” among the president’s White House advisors on how to deal with the tsunami of humanity at the Southwest border. I take the leaks in that article with a grain of salt, but the one quote I believe is from Biden himself, who asked: “Who do I need to fire ... to fix this?”

But even that quote is self-serving because Biden created this mess — not endemic poverty, corruption, and violence in Central America; not the economic effects of Covid-19; not climate change or any other soft variable. He inherited policies that made the border secure, and he almost immediately trashed them because he did not like the policies or his predecessor who implemented them.

Obama managed to keep apprehension numbers down, even as poverty, corruption, and violence took a toll in Central America, and natural disasters wrecked that region, South America, and the Caribbean. And it is not as if Covid-19-related shutdowns left the U.S. economy unscathed. Obama understood illegal migration as a problem. Such recognition is sorely wanting in Biden’s White House.

The numbers are clear: DHS has released more than 756,000 aliens encountered by CBP at the Southwest border into the United States since Joe Biden became president, not counting 146,000-plus unaccompanied children released by HHS to sponsors and 620,000 aliens who evaded apprehension. Each is here indefinitely, and most forever. That is unsustainable — but the president has no plan to stop it anytime soon.