CBP released the December numbers on Southwest border encounters in another Friday evening news dump. They show that Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 221,000 illegal migrants last month and that total CBP encounters surged to their highest monthly level in recorded history (more than 251,000) — all in a month illegal entries should be nearing yearly lows. While the White House is working on hiding the scope of the disaster at the Southwest border by illegally funneling would-be migrants into the United States and rebranding them as “parolees”, these numbers suggest that cities and towns across the United States will be hit with even larger numbers of “new arrivals” whom they will have to feed, clothe, and house come the spring, when illegal entries normally hit their peak.
The Dismal Numbers. In just the first three months of FY 2023 (October-December 2022), more than 633,000 illegal migrants have been apprehended at the Southwest border, a figure already exceeding annual totals for every year there between FY 2009 and FY 2018. Unless the Biden administration shifts course, or Congress forces the president to change his border policies, more than three million aliens — a population larger than 17 U.S. states or the cities of Philadelphia and Dallas combined — will illegally enter across the Southwest border in FY 2023.
To put these figures into context, it’s important to understand that — historically — illegal entries at the Southwest border hit their lowest levels between December and February, then surge between March and June, peaking in May. As the summer heat hits the U.S.-Mexico line, entries taper off through the fall and into the early winter before the pattern repeats again.
Perhaps it’s “climate change”, but that pattern hasn’t been quite as dependable under Biden as in the immediate past. Southwest border apprehension numbers have been high and remained high, and yet there were still identifiable late spring and early summer surges in both FY 2021 and FY 2022.
In FY 2021, apprehensions hit their peak (exceeding 200,000 for the first time since March 2000) in July, while in FY 2022 they topped out at over 224,000 in May. Apprehensions have not dropped below 200,000 in any month since September, when they neared 208,000.
Simply put, you cannot just extrapolate those 633,000-plus apprehensions between October and December over the last nine months of the fiscal year and expect 2.5 million migrants by September 30. The actual total — all else being equal — will be much closer, if not exceed, three million.
And that is just the apprehensions. Fox News reports that there were more than 70,000 “got-aways” — aliens who entered illegally and eluded agents at the Southwest border to make it free and clear into the interior — in December, on top of 137,000-plus in October and November.
That means that an additional 2,250 got-aways per day have entered illegally and evaded apprehension this fiscal year, and if you simply extrapolate that figure out, you get to 821,250 more foreign nationals who will be in the country by the end of September.
The News Dump. There is no way to spin this dismal humanitarian and national-security disaster, hence the administration’s recourse to a Friday evening news dump.
By inadvertence, oversight, or chutzpah (or some combination of the three) the deliberate nature of the timing of the release is revealed in the statistics themselves. The CBP website shows the statistics were “last modified” — that is compiled and ready to go — on Wednesday, January 18. And yet, they were not formally released until after COB on Friday.
Do you remember when then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki, just hours after the inauguration, described President Biden’s “objective and his commitment is to bring transparency and truth back to government — to share the truth, even when it’s hard to hear”? Pure balloon juice.
Title 42 Expulsions. As bad as December’s numbers may seem — and as noted, they’re pretty dismal — they’re actually worse than they appear, as expulsions under CDC orders issued pursuant to Title 42 of the U.S. Code reached a two-year low in December.
Of the more than 221,000 illegal migrants apprehended at the Southwest border in December, fewer than 48,000 (or less than 21.5 percent of the total) were expelled pursuant to Title 42.
Title 42 was implemented in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and you have to go back to August 2020 to find a month in which there were fewer Title 42 expulsions (just less than 43,000). That month, however, agents caught just over 47,000 illegal entrants — and expelled more than 90 percent of them.
Of the nearly 174,000 migrants who were apprehended at the Southwest border in December but not expelled under Title 42, most will be released into the United States, assuming they have not been released already.
Border Patrol agents released nearly 10,000 of those migrants on their own recognizance in December, and paroled more than 130,500 others — more than 140,000 in total — despite the fact that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) mandates that illegal entrants be detained from the moment they are caught to the point at which they are granted asylum or, alternatively, removed.
Fewer than 14,000 others were sent for detention by ICE, but most of them will hit the streets as well.
One reason why just over one in five illegal migrants was expelled in December is that the Biden administration is fighting in federal court (in two separate actions, one in the Fifth Circuit and one before the Supreme Court) to end Title 42. The justices have ordered the administration to continue to implement Title 42, but Biden is plainly only reluctantly doing so.
They are set to hear a challenge by the states in the matter on March 1, and thereafter the Supreme Court will issue an opinion that will determine whether Title 42 will end.
If either the High Court or the Fifth Circuit allows the administration to end Title 42 expulsions, DHS estimates that anywhere between 12,000 and 18,000 illegal migrants will enter the United States per day across the Southwest border. At that point, the border as a national boundary will effectively cease to exist.
Costs to Cities and States. One way or another, between apprehensions and got-aways, states and cities across America are facing the prospect of providing for an additional four million-plus foreign nationals in FY 2023 alone, and that assumes that the end of Title 42 does not encourage an additional 1.5 million to come pouring in.
Localities across the United States are already struggling to keep up with the current load. As the New York Times reported on January 18, NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D) is complaining that “the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants has overwhelmed city services and has already cost $300 million so far”, and that “the influx could ultimately cost $2 billion”.
Adams now asserts “there is no room” in his city for any new migrants, but as December’s border numbers reveal, they’re still coming.
That’s just one city, which thus far has received just over 40,000 migrants. Multiply that by 100, and you will get a sense of the impact of four million new illegal arrivals this fiscal year.
On January 11, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) appeared on PBS News Hour and explained that his city already has 1,200 migrants in its shelters, with 50 new arrivals each day. Colorado has budgeted $5 million in response to this migrant crisis, half of which has gone to its capital city, but it’s nowhere near enough. Hancock is now moving to limit the amount of time migrants can stay in shelters to 14 days.
Don’t Expect Republicans in the House to Come to the Rescue. New York, Denver, and countless other cities are begging the federal government for more cash to deal with their migrant crises, but those plaints will likely fall on deaf ears in the House of Representatives, which is now in Republican control.
The GOP House — from Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on down to the rank and file — have their sights set on DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, whom they blame for failing to secure the Southwest border. It’s doubtful that they will be coming to the aid of Democrat-led cities, many of which are self-proclaimed sanctuaries for illegal aliens, for migrants drawn to the country by Biden’s border policies.
Things Will Get Worse. As the foregoing reveals, things at the Southwest border are bad and are set to get worse. Migrants are coming in record numbers, placing a strain on the cities and towns that are their ultimate destinations. Republicans are (correctly) blaming the administration for its feckless immigration policies, but Biden’s not only not accepting responsibility, he’s also hiding the truth.
The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization founded in 1985. It is the nation’s only think tank devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States.