For the first time, annual arrests of undocumented immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border surpassed 2 million. According to figures provided by senior Biden administration officials Monday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained 203,598 migrants crossing from Mexico.
The figure exceeds last year’s record of more than 1.7 million arrests, and puts authorities on pace to tally more than 2.3 million arrests during the government’s 2022 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Recent data also shows a stark shift in the nationalities of people coming to the U.S. In August, the number of immigrants from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela caught crossing the southwestern border was nearly the same as the number of immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Ahead of the midterms, the Biden administration has tried to steer clear of immigration issues as Republicans continue to orchestrate political stunts in efforts to bring voters’ attention to the border. Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis paid for dozens of immigrants who were released from government custody to be transported to Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.. However, on Monday officials gave some reporters a background briefing before Customs and Border Protection’s routine monthly release of data.
Biden administration officials blamed the governments of those countries, whose strained relations with Washington severely limit the ability of authorities to send them deportees. Many of the migrants apply for humanitarian protection in the United States and tend to have strong asylum claims.
“Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest U.S. border,” Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement. “Those fleeing repressive regimes pose significant challenges for processing and removal,” he said, using the official term for deportations.
Biden administration officials continue to insist they are building a “safe, orderly and humane” immigration system while blaming the Trump administration for “dismantling” channels for legal migration.