Growing numbers of Mexicans, Hondurans, Cubans, and Venezuelans are coming across the U.S.-Mexico border, while some U.S. policies may continue to funnel migrants into hazardous terrain.
The number of migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border dipped slightly last month compared with the month before, but is still on pace to surpass last year’s record-breaking totals, according to statistics released this week by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“Repeat crossers” and other factors may skew the numbers somewhat, making them appear larger than they are, but the sheer number and variety of migrants arriving at the Southwest border are still at historic highs, said Adam Isacson, of the Washington Office on Latin America, a research and advocacy group.
Is this a record-breaking year for migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border?
The consensus is mostly yes. Border agents and officials encountered 199,976 migrants at the Southwest border, a 4% drop from June, when 207,933 were encountered, according to the CBP statistics. But, overall, 1.947 million migrants were encountered at the border this fiscal year from October 2021 through July. That number is already higher than the 1.7 million reported all of the last fiscal year, then the highest number on record. (Numbers have approached those heights in decades past: 1.6 million in 1986 and again in 2000.)
Border officials said 22% of those encountered at the border were “repeat crossers,” or those picked up more than once in a year, which may overstate the total number, Isacson said. But even factoring in repeat crossers, the numbers are on pace to bust previous records.
“No matter how you measure it … this will be the largest year ever,” he said.
What is Title 42, and how did the pandemic affect immigration numbers?
Border agents and officials continue to expel migrants at the border under Title 42, the pandemic-era rule that allows agents to remove migrants without processing their asylum claims to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. In July, 74,573 migrants encountered at the Southwest border – or 37% – were removed from the U.S. under Title 42, according to CBP statistics.