The southern border of the United States has seen a record-breaking surge in migrant encounters in December, according to sources within the Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The numbers have surpassed 276,000, marking the highest monthly tally ever recorded, surpassing the previous record set in September which saw 269,735 encounters. This information comes to light as US and Mexican officials engage in discussions about possibilities of “regularizing” the status of those residing illegally in the country.
The total number of encounters since the start of the fiscal year on October 1 has exceeded 760,000, making it the highest quarter ever recorded. Furthermore, there have been 82,000 known instances of migrants evading capture since the beginning of October. In just the last 24 hours, over 9,400 encounters have been recorded, with more than 8,000 resulting in a release with a Notice to Appear.
This unprecedented surge has put immense pressure on Border Patrol agents who are struggling to cope with the influx. Critics, particularly Republicans, attribute this situation to the current administration’s policies, including the cessation of certain Trump-era measures. Conversely, the administration argues that they are grappling with a challenge that spans the entire hemisphere and necessitates increased funding and immigration reform legislation from Congress.
The administration has adopted a multi-pronged strategy that involves expanding legal routes for migration, intensifying crackdowns on smugglers, and implementing what it claims are consequences for illegal entry. A Department of Homeland Security official disclosed that between May and the end of November, there were approximately 400,000 removals, a figure nearing the total number of removals in all of FY19. However, it has also been reported that 5,000 illegal immigrants are being released into the U.S. daily, not including those given parole at ports of entry.
Simultaneously, the White House is requesting $14 billion in border funding as part of an emergency supplemental funding request. This request is currently stalled as Republicans demand additional restrictions on asylum and the use of parole to halt interior releases.
This week, a U.S. delegation, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico City. Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to “orderly, humane and regular migration,” focusing on addressing the root causes of migration and disrupting human smuggling operations. However, they also acknowledged the potential benefits of granting some form of legal status to illegal immigrants already residing in the U.S., including those protected under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order. This move has been criticized by Republicans who argue that it would only worsen the crisis.
House Speaker Mike Johnson expressed his disapproval, stating, “At a time when America is experiencing the worst border crisis in our nation’s history, it is unconscionable to hear the Biden Administration’s announcement that Secretaries Mayorkas and Blinken discussed with the President of Mexico amnesty for illegal immigrants.” He further argued that the focus should be on deterring illegal immigration and curbing the activities of smugglers profiting from the situation.