In one year, Customs and Border Protection agents encountered triple the number of people entering the U.S. illegally than the previous year. From October 2020 to September 2021, 1,734,686 people were encountered at the U.S. southern border.
From October 2019 to September 2020, that number was 458,088.
With strained resources, an increased number of agents retiring and not enough agents being hired to replace them, CBP officers worked tirelessly during state shutdowns and threats associated with the coronavirus to process the greatest number of people encountered in recorded agency history.
The U.S. southern border with Mexico is the 10th-longest border between two countries in the world. The total length of the continental border is 1,954 miles, the majority of which – 1,254 miles – is shared with Texas.
The next highest number of encounters recorded was in 2000 with roughly 1.64 million, according to Border Patrol data dating back to 1960.
The agency recently released the latest numbers for September, when 192,001 people were encountered, compared to 57,674 in September 2020.
September’s encounters were down from the high of 209,840 in August and the highest so far this year of 213,593 in July.
In August 2020, there were 50,014 encounters; in July 2020, 40,929 encounters.
While overall numbers tripled compared to the same time period last year, those entering illegally in July of this year were a more than five-fold increase compared to last July, and a more than four-fold increase in August.
None of these numbers include “got-aways,” people who evade capture, a number that is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands.
By category of people coming through, the largest number are single adults, totaling more than 1.1 million people, or 63.57% of all encounters.
However, CBP said that “the majority of noncitizens encountered were expelled under Title 42,” contrary to claims made by critics of Biden administration immigration policies.
The larger number of expulsions contributed to a greater-than-usual number of people attempting to make multiple border crossings, CBP explained.
Of the 192,001 encounters last month, for example, 26% involved individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, meaning they had tried to enter illegally and were caught and expelled then attempted reentry.
The majority, 53%, or 102,673, were processed for expulsion under Title 42; 89,238 were processed under Title 8, CBP reports.
In addition to apprehending people, CBP focuses on illegal trafficking of narcotics.
Nationwide, not just at the southern border, CBP reports that last month, drug seizures overall were down 23%.
While cocaine seizures increased 11% and heroin seizures increased 6%, methamphetamine seizures decreased 46% and fentanyl seizures decreased 35% last month.
Also in September, CBP seized 2,073 shipments of counterfeit goods worth more than $375 million.