Data: The number of migrants apprehended at U.S.-Mexico border in 2021 was highest in 20 years

Migration surge has persisted throughout 2021, setting an annual tally not seen since 2000

. (Henry Keller/KSAT)

Read more stories wrapping 2021 here.

After border crossings were bottled up in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions, 2021 border crossing numbers surpassed numbers last seen 20 years ago, according to data provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

From October 2020, the start of the fiscal year 2021, through September, agents have encountered roughly 1,733,652 million migrants, surpassing fiscal year 2000, when 1,643,679 border encounters were logged.

Migration numbers have been steadily growing since a sharp dip in 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 10 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 monthly count not seen since March 2000.

Border apprehensions increased in November after three consecutive monthly decreases.

(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 spikes were exacerbated by civil unrest in other countries.

Over the summer, for example, 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.

Still, most of those apprehended while crossing the border come from Central American countries, including Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala.

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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.