Arrests of Illegal Immigrants at US–Mexico Border Set New October Record

November 10, 2021 Updated: November 10, 2021

Apprehensions along the U.S.–Mexico border in October set a new record for the month, unpublished data obtained by The Epoch Times show.

Border Patrol logged about 163,000 arrests of illegal immigrants at the northern and southern borders, according to preliminary data that doesn’t include Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations (OFO). While arrests at the U.S.–Canadian border are typically less than 100 each month, the OFO has recently recorded at least 5,096 arrests per month.

While the total apprehensions are down from the previous month, they established a new record for October, easily clearing the 91,410 arrests recorded in October of 1999 and well above the figures seen during recent administrations.

“It’s an improvement, but it’s still four or five times the level that we saw during the Obama or Trump administrations,” Steven Kopits, president of the Princeton Policy Advisors, told The Epoch Times.

Arrests under former President Donald Trump averaged 45,000 per October and arrests under former President Barack Obama averaged 33,000 per October.

The new October record isn’t the only one set by the Biden administration. The arrests last month mean the administration has presided over the year with the most arrests, with two months still left to go.

For the full year, Princeton Policy’s forecast stands at 1.87 million apprehensions, up from the prior record of 1.61 million set under the Clinton administration in 2000.

Epoch Times Photo
A chart shows the number of border apprehensions at the southwest border in recent years. (Courtesy of Princeton Policy Advisors)
Epoch Times Photo
A chart shows the annual number of border apprehensions at the southwest border in recent years and the projection that 2021 will set a new record. (Courtesy of Princeton Policy Advisors)

Most of the October apprehensions took place in the always-busy Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector in Texas. But agents in other areas also made significant arrests, with the number breaching 22,400 in the Yuma, Arizona, sector.

Illegal border crossings have exploded since President Joe Biden took office in January. The Democrat quickly reversed or altered key Trump-era border security and enforcement policies, including halting the construction of the border wall and stopping the “Remain in Mexico” program. The administration also ended the expulsion of many illegal immigrants despite the COVID-19 pandemic and released hundreds of thousands into the U.S. interior, some without official papers to appear in court.

The Biden administration, which has called Trump-era policies “inhumane” and “cruel,” has said its immigration system overhaul will take time to complete.

Vice President Kamala Harris was tapped in March to address the border issue and has said her focus is on the “root causes” of illegal immigration.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has said the agency’s three-part plan is to invest in countries that people are leaving, to build “safe, orderly, and humane pathways” for immigration, and rebuild the asylum system and refugee program.

Epoch Times Photo
Thousands of illegal immigrants amass in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 16, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Scores of illegal immigrants have said they’ve traveled to the United States because of Biden’s policies. Mexico’s government also appears to have become more lenient with illegal immigrants transiting through since Biden took office.

Many Haitians who crossed into a primitive camp under the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas, recently told The Epoch Times that now was the time to come because it was easier to get in and stay in under Biden. The majority had been living in Chile or Brazil for years.

In addition to the apprehensions in October, there were roughly 50,000 “gotaways,” or illegal immigrants who were recorded as evading arrest, according to the unpublished data. An untold number of other illegal immigrants enter the country without being arrested or recorded as having gotten away.

“Those gotaway numbers are higher than I’d have expected—they’re equivalent to 30 percent of apprehensions,” Mark Kirkorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Epoch Times in an email.

The decline in arrests from September may stem from a decrease in the number of U.S. job openings, Kopits said.

“There are a number of factors. One is that you may be running out of migrants right now—the number of people who wanted to come. It could just be a monthly blip, that happens sometimes. It could be the enforcement’s a little bit better than it was. Or it could be that the job market’s a little softer,” he said. “There’s a little bit less opportunity for migrants and so they’re slowing down a little bit.”

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated when the Biden administration would set a new yearly record. It already has. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
Charlotte Cuthbertson
Senior Reporter
Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter with The Epoch Times who primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.