By Zachary Stieber
President Joe Biden is facing fresh criticism after his administration finally released illegal immigrant apprehension numbers from September, showing the number of arrests soared to a record-high.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) made 227,547 arrests in September at the U.S.-Mexico border—the most in history. That was by far the highest number in a September, coming in at some 35,000 over the first September under Biden, the previous record, and up 12 percent from August.
It was also one of the highest numbers in fiscal year 2022, despite September traditionally being one of the months that illegal immigration slows due to weather and other patterns.
The number “reflects an accelerating pace of apprehensions when they should be declining seasonally,” Steven Kopits, president of the Princeton Policy Advisers, said in a statement. “This speaks to both a strong U.S. labor market and deteriorating enforcement at the border.”
Biden, a Democrat, reversed or weakened various Trump-era border policies, including halting construction of the border wall. His administration has also curtailed the deportation of illegal immigrants.
“Over the past 21 months, we have witnessed the devastating harm wrought by a rogue administration that is asserting near-dictatorial powers in a relentless effort to keep our borders open,” RJ Hauman, the head of government relations and communications for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said in a statement.
“The endless flow of illegal immigrants and the incursion of lethal narcotics pouring across our border will not end until this administration demonstrates a willingness to secure the border and enforce the law,” he added.
Fiscal year 2021 already set a new record of apprehensions, 1.7 million, despite including nearly four months of below-average illegal immigration under former President Donald Trump. Fiscal year 2022 apprehensions reached more than 2.3 million. The new fiscal year started on Oct. 1.
In September, some 182,700 illegal immigrants were captured. Some were arrested more than once. The figure was a 15 percent jump from August.
Neither the White House nor Biden has reacted to the latest numbers, which do not include “gotaways,” or illegal immigrants who evaded capture after entering the United States.
CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, a Biden appointee, blamed the wave of illegal immigrants on “failing regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua” but said the administration has been taking action with Mexico in a bid to slow the illegal immigration “and create a more fair, orderly, and safe process for people fleeing the humanitarian and economic crisis in their country.”
Of the illegal immigrants arrested in September, 42 percent were from Venezuela, Cuba, or Nicaragua. About half of the rest were from Mexico or North Central America.
About three-quarters of those arrested were single adults. The rest were family units or unaccompanied children.
According to CBP figures, the number of Venezuelans trying to enter America dropped more than 80 percent after the joint actions with Mexico. CBP is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“CBP and DHS will continue to work with our partners in the region to address the root causes of migration, expand legal pathways, facilitate removals, and take thousands of smugglers off the streets,” Magnus said. “No matter what smugglers say, those who do not have a legal basis to remain in the country will be removed and people should not make the dangerous journey.”