December broke records for migrant encounters at the southern border, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed on Friday, as it released numbers showing that there were a record 302,000 migrant encounters at the southern border.
The Friday afternoon release, which showed 302,034 encounters in December, comes more than three weeks since Fox reported that there were over 302,000 encounters — which breaks the monthly record set in September and is the first time the number has ever breached the 300,000 mark.
It’s enough people to fill the Las Vegas Super Bowl more than four and a half times, and is nearly the total population of Cincinnati. Of the encounters, nearly 250,000 were between ports of entry.
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It’s the latest staggering numbers to come from the southern border since the crisis exploded in 2021. There were over 2.4 million migrant encounters in FY 23, after a record-setting FY 22.
The numbers do not include “gotaways” of which there have been estimates of over 800,000 in FY 23, or migrants who are paroled in through the Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan (CHNV) parole program — which allows 30,000 migrants to fly directly in each month as part of the Biden administration’s “expanded lawful pathways.”
Separately, there were 19 individuals arrested on the terror watch list in December – all on the southern border. It brings the total for FY 24 so far to 50 arrests (49 on the southern border, one on the northern border).
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The watch list, now officially called the Terrorist Screening Dataset, is the U.S. database that contains information on terrorist identities and includes not only known or suspected terrorists but also affiliates of watch-listed individuals.
The numbers come as border security remains a red-hot political issue across the country. In Texas, officials are feuding with the federal government over the state’s seizure of Shelby Park and the administration’s cutting of razor wire set up by Texas. The Supreme Court recently allowed the Biden administration to resume the practice.
Meanwhile, multiple “sanctuary” cities have called for aid from the Biden administration for the massive numbers of migrants they are seeing flood into their cities, some of whom have been bused in by Texas.
Separately, in Washington D.C., negotiations are ongoing over a border supplemental bill. The White House has requested $14 billion as part of its request, including for aid to communities, more staffing and increased expedited removal. Republicans have said the package needs to include asylum restrictions and limits on the administration’s use of humanitarian parole.
The Biden administration has said it needs comprehensive immigration reform from Congress as well as funding to deal with what it says is a “broken” system, and has accused Republicans of seeking to turn it into a political issue. It has also pointed to a number of removals since May that is larger than the entirety of FY 2019, and record fentanyl seizures.
On Friday, acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said that CBP “remains vigilant to respond to the serious challenges we are experiencing across the southwest border.”
“CBP continues to use all available resources to ensure the safety and security of our agents and officers, and the migrants who are often misled and victimized by the transnational criminal organizations,” he said. “But as we have repeatedly said, CBP and our federal partners need additional support from Congress so that we can continue to effectuate consequences for those who do not use established lawful pathways.”
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But Republicans have blamed the crisis on the Biden administration and its policies, and has recently moved to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over what they have claimed is a “dereliction of duty.” Those calls were immediately renewed after the numbers dropped, with House Homeland Security Chair Mark Green saying they were “undeniable proof” of his majority’s case.
“This staggering number of encounters at our borders only happens by design and a willful refusal to comply with the laws passed by Congress,” he said. “The harsh reality is that this secretary has intentionally opened our borders, sending a clear message worldwide: entering this country illegally means release into the interior, with little to no chance of removal—and the world has responded accordingly. This is intentional, and it is a disaster.