During his candidacy, President Joe Biden said that if he were elected president, migrants seeking asylum should "immediately surge to the border."
"What I would do as president is several more things," Biden said at the first Democratic primary debate for the 2020 election. "I would, in fact, make sure that there is ... We immediately surge to the border, all those people are seeking asylum."
Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released record-breaking operational statistics on Friday for August. CBP had 181,059 encounters between ports of entry along the Southwest border, with 232,972 encounters reported for the month.
Notwithstanding Biden's directive, CBP remains watchful against smugglers and criminal groups exploiting migrants and trafficking lethal drugs, posing a threat to our communities.
"CBP remains vigilant in the face of ruthless smugglers and transnational criminal organizations who exploit vulnerable migrants, the same criminal organizations trafficking in lethal drugs that harm our communities," said Troy A. Miller, senior official performing the duties of the commissioner, according to the CBP Friday media release.
"Our operational tempo along the border has increased in response to increased encounters, and we remain squarely focused on our broader security mission and enforcing U.S. immigration laws," he added.
Among CBP's 232,972 overall encounters along the Southwest border in August, 11% involved individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, compared to an average one-year reencounter rate of 14% for fiscal years 2014-2019 and a repeat encounter rate of 35% in August of 2022.
In April 2023, the last month in which the Title 42 public health order was entirely in place, repeat encounters accounted for nearly a quarter, 23%, of overall encounters.
The number of unique individuals encountered by CBP along the Southwest border was 164,911 in August 2023.
CBP also reported an 11% one-year reencounter rate among 232,972 Southwest border encounters, down from a 35% rate in August 2022 and a 14% average from 2014-2019.
In August, CBP apprehended over 91,000 migrants who entered the U.S. as family groups, setting a new record high. This number surpasses the previous monthly record of 84,486 arrests in May 2019 during the Trump administration, according to preliminary figures reviewed by The Washington Post.
CBP's fentanyl seizures also increased from July to August.
Through August, CBP confiscated over 25,500 pounds of fentanyl, a significant increase from the 12,800 pounds seized during the same period in 2022. That marks an over 800% rise in fentanyl seizures since fiscal year 2019, and fiscal year 2023 has already exceeded the total seizures of fiscal year 2022.
Jim Thomas ✉
Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.
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