Posted on May 18, 2023

Southwest Border Apprehensions, Encounters, Surge in April

Andrew R. Arthur, Center for Immigration Studies, May 18, 2023

CBP has released its statistics on Border Patrol apprehensions and CBP overall encounters at the Southwest border for the month of April and, not surprisingly, both surged last month even while Title 42 expulsions dropped. That does not bode well for the administration with Title 42 having some ended on May 11 just as “travel season” at the U.S.-Mexico line gears up. Expect some drop-off in apprehensions when the May numbers come out next month as illegal migrants — and more importantly their smugglers — are still trying to figure out all the loopholes in Biden’s latest border regime.

Border Patrol Apprehensions. In April, Border Patrol agents at the Southwest border apprehended more than 182,000 illegal migrants — by my counting making last month’s apprehension total the 15th highest in history (records go back to October 1999), and the 12th highest in the 27 full and dismal (from a border security perspective) months of the Biden administration.

It’s also a 12 percent increase in apprehensions over March, and a 40 percent increase over February — the month Biden lauded his immigration efforts at the State of the Union address.

So much for that, and for White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s recent contention that “when it comes to illegal migration, you’ve seen it come down by more than 90 percent, and that’s because of … the actions that this President has taken”. The apprehension total is what it is because of “actions that this President has taken”, but not in the way she likely meant.

To explain, let me reference federal district court Judge T. Kent Wetherell II, who in his March 8 opinion in Florida v. U.S. explained that Biden’s Southwest border migrant release polices:

were akin to posting a flashing “Come In, We’re Open” sign on the southern border. The unprecedented “surge” of aliens that started arriving at the Southwest Border almost immediately after President Biden took office and that has continued unabated over the past two years was a predictable consequence of these actions. Indeed, [Border Patrol Chief Raul] Ortiz credibly testified based on his experience that there have been increases in migration “when there are no consequences” and migrant populations believe they will be released into the country.


They were likely further enticed by the fact that Border Patrol apparently began ramping down Title 42 expulsions in April even before the CDC orders that guided that policy expired.

Fewer than 72,000 apprehended migrants were expelled under Title 42 last month, 39.4 percent of the total. That compares — unfavorably — to March, when more than 89,000 illegal entrants (55 percent of that month’s total) were expelled.

If you look just at the number of aliens who were processed under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”, which the administration insists on referring to as “Title 8”, likely to snooker the unwary), last month was the sixth-highest total under the Biden administration. Again, that’s nothing to be happy about.

Most, if not the vast majority, of those illegal migrants will be released into the United States. If Border Patrol doesn’t release them directly from its custody, they will be sent to ICE, where nearly all will be released by that agency. {snip}


CBP Encounters. CBP encounters are the total of Border Patrol apprehensions and aliens deemed inadmissible at the ports of entry by CBP officers in the agency’s Office of Field Operations (OFO).

In April, CBP officers and agents encountered more than 211,000 aliens at the Southwest border, the eighth-highest monthly total under the Biden administration.

For what it’s worth, it’s also the eighth-highest monthly total for Southwest border encounters in the last 11 years, and probably in history {snip}