Posted on October 25, 2021

Border Arrests Have Soared to All-Time High, New CBP Data Shows

Nick Miroff, Washington Post, October 20, 2021

U.S. authorities detained more than 1.7 million migrants along the Mexico border during the 2021 fiscal year that ended in September, and arrests by the Border Patrol soared to the highest levels ever recorded, according to unpublished U.S. Customs and Border Protection data obtained by The Washington Post.

Illegal crossings began rising last year but skyrocketed in the months after President Biden took office. As CBP arrests increased this past spring, Biden described the rise as consistent with historical seasonal norms. But the busiest months came during the sweltering heat of July and August, when more than 200,000 migrants were taken into custody.

During a confirmation hearing Tuesday for Chris Magnus, the Tucson police chief Biden has nominated to lead CBP, Republican senators pressed him to characterize the surge as a “crisis.”

Magnus called it a “significant challenge,” echoing the Biden administration’s preferred term, adding that “the numbers are very high.” CBP is expected to release the 2021 fiscal year data later this week.

Border enforcement has become a major political liability for Biden, and the president’s handling of immigration remains his worst-polling issue. He promised on the campaign trail to make the United States more welcoming to immigrants, in contrast to former president Donald Trump, whose zero-tolerance family separations generated widespread outrage in 2018.


Once in office, Biden quickly halted construction on the border wall, ended the “Remain in Mexico” policy, reversed key asylum restrictions and announced a 100-day pause on most deportations and enforcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Biden officials initially blamed the previous administration’s policies for the increase in border crossings and said migration pressures intensified as a result of the pandemic’s economic fallout. Many migrants have told reporters they opted to make the journey north, at great cost and considerable danger, with the belief that Biden would allow them to stay. {snip}


The latest CBP data indicates that the administration’s challenges extend far beyond Central America. Mexico was the single largest source of illegal migration during the 2021 fiscal year, as the Border Patrol arrested more than 608,000 Mexican nationals.


Biden officials are in negotiations with Mexico to comply with federal court orders to restart the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires asylum seekers to wait outside U.S. territory while their cases are processed.

The second-largest grouping was composed of migrants from outside Mexico and Central America whom CBP categorized as “other,” including Haitians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorans, Cubans, Brazilians and migrants from dozens of other nations. They accounted for 367,000 arrests.

They were followed by migrants from Honduras (309,000), Guatemala (279,000) and El Salvador (96,000).


More than 1.3 million migrants have been taken into custody along the southern border in the nine months since Biden took office, including 192,000 last month, the latest CBP figures show.

In the fiscal years between 2012 and 2020, border arrests averaged about 540,000. The 2021 figure was more than three times that amount.


During the 2021 fiscal year, agents apprehended 1.66 million along the Mexico border only, the latest figures show. That exceeds the 1.64 million taken into custody in 2000 along the Mexico border, according to historic data.

Those figures do not include the unknown number of migrants who successfully evaded capture after making an illegal entry that was detected by CBP sensors, video cameras or agents.