Jun 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Border agents set new record amid historic migrant trends

U.S. border crossings, by country&nbspof&nbsporigin
Data: U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Border Patrol agents set an all-time monthly record in May with nearly 223,000 migrant apprehensions at the southwest border, according to recently released U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

Why it matters: The data underscores the ongoing logistical, humanitarian and political challenges facing President Biden at the border. Sustained Mexican migration, new flows from farther-flung nations like Ukraine and an increase in multiple attempted crossings are driving the unprecedented numbers.

By the numbers: With four months left, border officials have processed migrants 1.5 million times this fiscal year — putting the government on track to surpass last year's record high.

  • Migrants have now been rapidly expelled more than 2 million times since the controversial Title 42 policy was enacted in March 2020, citing COVID-19 public health concerns.
  • The use of Title 42 has likely contributed to the uptick in people trying multiple times to cross the border. One in four encounters at the border last month was with migrants who had tried to cross at least one other time in the year before, according to CBP.

Between the lines: New, historic migration trends throughout the hemisphere continue to bring a far more diverse population seeking entry into the U.S. on foot.

  • For example, during the 2019 surge, 64% of encounters at the southwest border were with migrants from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador.
  • Those nationalities have made up just 23% of encounters so far this fiscal year.
  • Mexican nationals remain the largest single nationality arriving at the border, but people have increasingly fled from more distant home countries like Cuba, Colombia and Nicaragua — and even as far as India and Russia.
  • The top countries of origin for encounters at the border in May were Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Nicaragua and Haiti, according to the Washington Office on Latin America's Adam Isacson.
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