Illegal border crossings during the month of December reached their highest level of the Biden administration, topping 250,000 in the last month of 2022 ahead of President Biden announcing tougher border enforcement policies.
Data released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Friday revealed that officials had 251,487 encounters on the southwestern border of the United States during December, a 7 percent increase from the previous month. That total includes 216,162 unique encounters from different people, which is 11 percent higher than in November.
A release from CBP states that the increase was largely fueled by people fleeing “authoritarian regimes” in Nicaragua and Cuba. More than 77,000 of the unique encounters at the southern border, equal to 36 percent of the encounters, were people from one of these two countries.
People coming from Mexico and northern Central American countries made up almost 53,000 unique encounters, or 24 percent. That’s a 6 percent decrease from December 2021.
The Biden administration announced a variety of enhanced measures designed to get the number of illegal border crossings under control amid criticism from both sides of the aisle for the situation, albeit for different reasons.
The measures include prohibiting people from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti from applying for asylum if they cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization and continued enforcement of Title 42, a Trump-era policy that has allowed U.S. officials to more easily expel migrants as a public health measure.
The administration also is proposing a rule to ban migrants from applying for asylum if they do not try to receive protection in a country they traveled through to get to the U.S. first.
The head of CBP said the data from December shows the measures are working despite the increase.
“Even as overall encounters rose because of smugglers spreading misinformation around the court-ordered lifting of the Title 42 public health order, we continued to see a sharp decline in the number of Venezuelans unlawfully crossing our southwest border, down 82% from September 2022,” acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said.
“Early data suggests the expanded measures for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans are having a similar impact, and we look forward to sharing the additional data in the next update,” he continued.
CBP data shows almost two-thirds of illegal border crossings were by single adults, a 2.3 percent increase compared to November, while encounters of unaccompanied children dropped by 6.4 percent to 12,298.
Encounters of family units rose 22 percent from November to just above 77,000.
Biden visited the southern border for the first time during his presidency earlier this month following calls from Republicans for months for him to visit the area to hear firsthand accounts of the situation at the border.
illegal border crossings
U.S. Customs and Border Protection