Border Arrests Hit All-Time High

A U.S. Border Patrol medic places a cold pack on the neck of an immigrant suffering from heat exhaustion at a processing checkpoint on August 14 in Roma, Texas. The immigrants had just crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The U.S. Border Patrol detained a record number of migrants along the southern border during the past 12 months, according to new Customs and Border Protection data released Friday.

About 1.7 million migrants were arrested in the 2021 fiscal year, which spans from October through September. The previous fiscal-year record was 1.64 million border arrests in 2000. Despite the surge, the agency said arrests have ticked down in recent months. “The large number of expulsions during the pandemic has contributed to a larger-than-usual number of migrants making multiple border-crossing attempts, which means that total encounters somewhat overstate the number of unique individuals arriving at the border,” the agency said in a statement.

The agency expelled more than a million migrants during the past fiscal year by enforcing a public-health order created under the Trump administration known as Title 42. The pandemic-era emergency policy allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants while not giving them the chance to apply for asylum. “CBP encounters along the Southwest border declined in September from the prior month, and a majority of noncitizens encountered were expelled under Title 42,” CBP acting commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement.

The New York Times notes that 64 percent of the migrants detained over the last 12 months were single adults, along with roughly 479,000 families. Most of the detained migrants (78 percent) were from Mexico and Central America. Almost 147,000 unaccompanied children were detained while attempting to cross into the U.S. — the highest total since 2008.

“I don’t think it’s going to slow down anytime soon,” Laura Collins, an immigration expert at the George W. Bush Institute, told the Wall Street Journal. That’s largely because the factors that bring about that record flow of migrants — economic hardship, violence, extreme weather events, among others — likely won’t let up in the coming months.

U.S. Border Arrests Hit All-Time High