Data: Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border could reach 20-year high

Migration surge has persisted throughout the year, even in summer months

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. (Henry Keller/KSAT)

As the fiscal year comes to a close at the end of September, Border Patrol agents are on track to encounter more migrants than they have in the last 20 years, according to the latest numbers provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Migration numbers have been steadily growing since April 2020 when there was a lull in border crossings due to the coronavirus pandemic. Border Patrol agents have encountered at least 100,000 migrants or more on the country’s southwest border each month for seven consecutive months, with apprehensions peaking in July, according to the latest numbers provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. July’s tally surpassed 213,000, a number not seen since March 2000.

In August, apprehensions dipped slightly to more than 208,000.

From October 2020, the start of the fiscal year 2021, to August, agents have encountered more than 1.54 million migrants. September’s migration numbers have not been released yet, but they will add to an annual count that could surpass the 2000 fiscal year when 1,643,679 border encounters were logged.

(The below chart shows apprehensions by Fiscal Year, which runs from Oct. 1 - Sept. 30). Having issues? Click here.

Most people coming into the country present themselves to border agents once they cross and are detained and processed. Many of the men, women and children are refugees fleeing poverty, corruption and economic crises in their home countries including Central America and Mexico. Many are sent back to their home countries and others find legal avenues to remain in the U.S.

“CBP has experienced an increase in encounters and arrests. This is not new. Encounters have continued to increase since April 2020, and our past experiences have helped us be better prepared for the challenges we face this year,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller. “We are committed to balancing the need to maintain border security, care for those in our custody, and keep the American people and our workforce safe.”

The agency’s statistics show that the latest influx appears to be a continuation of a massive jump in border crossings that started at the beginning of 2019 and peaked in May of that year.

In other words, the influx in migrants is nothing new: it’s a cyclical trend that has fluctuated over the last two decades, and it largely occurs regardless of presidential policies put in place.

The latest spike came earlier this month in Del Rio when more than 12,000 Haitian migrants arrived to the port of entry hoping to claim asylum amid political unrest and natural disasters that have ravaged the Caribbean country.

Many of the migrants in Del Rio said they began their journey years ago, fleeing Haiti after previous disasters such as the devastating 2010 earthquake, according to the Associated Press. The journey has been arduous and many migrants said they’ve been exploited by criminals and robbers along the way.

Haitian border crossing numbers have steadily risen since April 2021, according to numbers provided by the CBP, but most migrants encountered at the border have been from Central American countries, according to the data.

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About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.