Arrests of Illegal Immigrants at US–Mexico Border Drop From Late 2022 but Break Another Record

Arrests of Illegal Immigrants at US–Mexico Border Drop From Late 2022 but Break Another Record
Border Patrol agents apprehend a large group of illegal immigrants near Eagle Pass, Texas, on May 20, 2022. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Zachary Stieber
2/11/2023
Updated:
2/12/2023
0:00

The number of illegal immigrant arrests at the U.S. southern border dropped sharply in the first month of 2023 but still broke the record for January.

Apprehensions of immigrants who illegally crossed into the country from Mexico totaled 156,274 in January, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). That was a 40 percent drop from December 2022 but the highest ever for the month of January.

Administration officials attributed the decrease to new policies that have been implemented at President Joe Biden’s direction, such as a program that enables nationals from four countries, including Cuba, to gain work authorization if they meet certain criteria.

“The significant decrease in Border Patrol encounters, well beyond that which is expected based on seasonal trends, is indicative of the success of the measures announced by the Administration,” CBP said in a statement. Border Patrol is part of CBP.

As proof, the agency pointed to how arrests of nationals from the four countries in question continued to plummet.

Part of the reason for the drop was that the administration paroled 11,637 people from across Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

The new program leverages the parole power that Congress granted to immigration officials to grant parole, or temporary authorization, to thousands of people who would otherwise be in the country illegally.

Twenty states filed a lawsuit over the effort, alleging that it violates federal law. Congress stated in the law that the parole power can only be used on a “case-by-case basis.”

Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the January numbers “do not represent a sharp decline in illegal immigration” but instead show “a transparent effort to mask the border crisis through illegal programs that allow inadmissible aliens to enter the United States by other means.”

In addition to the parole program, Stein noted that the administration developed an application that lets migrants notify CBP of an intent to claim asylum before even reaching the United States. Those migrants are then let into the United States if they pass a background check.

Any illegal immigrant is allowed to apply for asylum, but the conditions for granting asylum are narrow, and most asylum applications fail. The courts that hear the claims are so backlogged that most people who apply for asylum can spend years in the country without having their cases resolved.

“Even with these newly devised schemes, the number of migrants encountered at the southern border illegally remained at historically high levels, with 156,274 still being the highest January ever recorded,” Stein said.

The new figures mean that the administration is set to shatter the previous records for the highest number of arrests in a fiscal year and calendar year.

Those records were set in fiscal year 2022, which ended on Oct. 1, 2022, and calendar year 2022 by the Biden administration.

Enforcement Details

Many of the illegal immigrants, approximately 69 percent, arrested in January were single adults.

Of the encounters, 108,573 were with single adults and 38,087 were with family units or a group of family members traveling together.

Just 9,393 were unaccompanied minors or children who arrived without a responsible adult. Historically high numbers of unaccompanied minors have arrived at the border during the Biden administration.

About 66,000 of these illegal immigrants were expelled under Title 42—the public health order that the Supreme Court has ordered the Biden administration to keep in place.

The rest were processed under Title 8, the federal immigration law that enables asylum applications.

Under the law, officials are supposed to keep asylum seekers in custody until their cases are heard, but that hasn’t been happening for years.

Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]
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