Arrests of Illegal Immigrants at Southern Border in November Set New Record

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
December 20, 2021 Updated: December 20, 2021

President Joe Biden’s administration continued to struggle getting the U.S.–Mexico border under control in November, with a record-high number of arrests at the border recorded.

Some 173,620 arrests were made last month, according to Customs and Border Protection.

That’s the highest for the month of November in the nation’s history.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment and has not remarked on the number of apprehensions.

Chris Magnus, the newly confirmed CBP commissioner, said in a statement that the update on the border situation “reflects an incredible amount of work on behalf of the American people to keep dangerous drugs and products out of our communities, to facilitate travel and billions of dollars in trade, and to maintain security along our borders.”

Driving the number of arrests was an increase in family units and unaccompanied illegal immigrant children, or youth who arrive without a responsible adult to stay in the United States.

The 43,157 illegal immigrants who arrived with family members was a 5 percent increase from October, while the nearly 14,000 illegal immigrant minors represented a jump of 9 percent from the month before.

Overall, CBP agents encountered 127,653 different individuals, a 10 percent increase from October. Some illegal immigrants were arrested more than once.

The Biden administration rolled back a number of key Trump-era policies shortly after taking office, including halting construction of the border wall, ending the “Remain in Mexico” program, and curtailing use of pandemic powers to allow all illegal immigrant children who arrive without a responsible adult to stay in the United States.

Those changes triggered the largest wave of illegal immigration the United States has ever seen, according to some experts. Under Biden, the United States has already set records for the most illegal immigrant apprehensions in a fiscal year and in a calendar year.

Illegal immigration typically follows a seasonal pattern, peaking in May and declining for the rest of the year before starting to pick back up again in January of the following year.

The border situation will likely get worse in the coming months, according to Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge who is now a resident fellow in law and policy for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for lower levels of immigration.

“All the key numbers (total apprehensions, and apprehensions of families and unaccompanied alien children) are increasing, at a time of the year when they should be on the decline,” Arthur wrote in a blog post.

While the Biden administration has relaunched the “Remain in Mexico” program under court orders, “it is pondering other policies that will simply turn the disaster at the southwest border into a full-blown catastrophe,” he added.

Officials in multiple states have increasingly taken immigration enforcement into their own hands due to the relaxed stance of the administration.

Law enforcement in Texas earlier this year started arresting illegal immigrants on charges including trespassing, and Texas started building portions of border wall with funds from the state, Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week.

Florida officials, meanwhile, issued a rule on Dec. 10 that bars issuing or renewing licenses for any entities that house illegal immigrant children, around the same time the mayor of Yuma, Arizona declared a state of emergency over the influx of illegal aliens.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.