The Biden administration unveiled an unprecedented report on border encounters during a news release on Friday afternoon. The monthly Southwest Land Border Encounters report, which was released later than usual, provided a startling glimpse into the apprehension of nearly 250,000 migrants in December.
According to the report, Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border with Mexico apprehended 249,785 migrants who had illegally crossed the border between ports of entry. This figure represents a 12 percent increase compared to the 222,018 migrants apprehended in the same month last year, and it surpasses the previous record set during the Biden administration in May 2022 by over 11 percent.
The total number of migrant encounters at the southwest border in the first quarter of FY24 is almost 630,000, as stated in the December report. Out of these encounters, 325,739 were categorized as single adults, while the remaining encounters consisted of 268,818 family units and 35,118 unaccompanied minors.
“CBP has taken significant steps to surge personnel and resources to impacted areas and address challenges we are experiencing across the southwest border,” CBP officials said in a written statement late Friday afternoon. “Encounter numbers continue to fluctuate, as smugglers and bad actors continue to spread falsehoods and show complete disregard for the safety and well-being of vulnerable migrants.”
In December, the Tucson and Del Rio Sectors were responsible for over 150,000 of the nearly 250,000 migrant apprehensions. The number of migrants apprehended in the Tucson Sector increased by more than 260 percent compared to the previous year, reaching 80,185.
Meanwhile, the Del Rio Sector reported 71,095 migrant apprehensions in December, showing an increase of nearly 38 percent from the previous year’s figure of 51,701. Among the busiest sectors in December, the San Diego Sector encountered 34,372 migrants, marking an 81.4 percent increase. The El Paso Sector, on the other hand, experienced a decline of 39.1 percent with 33,970 encounters.
Looking at the overall southwest land border encounters in FY24, which began on September 1, 2023, the Tucson and Del Rio Sectors accounted for more than 352,000 out of the nearly 630,000 encounters. Interestingly, more than half of the reported encounters involved migrants from countries other than Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries. Venezuelan migrants made up a significant portion, totaling nearly 100,000. This is a notable increase compared to the approximately 200,000 Venezuelan migrants apprehended throughout Fiscal Year 23.
Furthermore, there has been a rise in the number of Chinese migrants encountered at the southwest border. In December alone, agents encountered nearly 6,000 Chinese migrants, a significant increase from the previous year’s 931. This trend continued into the first quarter of FY24, with agents encountering almost 15,000 Chinese migrants, surpassing the total apprehensions of over 24,000 in FY23.
However, unofficial Border Patrol reports indicate a sharp decline in migrant apprehensions during the first three weeks of January. Agents encountered approximately 83,000 migrants along the southwest border, averaging around 3,777 per day. This is a significant decrease compared to the daily average of approximately 8,057 in December.
The decline can be attributed to seasonal trends and the efforts of Mexican authorities to intercept migrants in their northern border states and return them to central or southern Mexico.
“Consistent with historical trends and enhanced enforcement, the first two weeks of January saw an over 50% decrease in southwest border encounters between ports of entry according to preliminary figures,” CBP officials stated.