published : 2023-12-10

Record-Breaking Surge in Migrant Encounters Puts Pressure on Biden Administration at US-Mexico Border

An average of 5,000 illegal immigrants released into the US each day, with a potential total of 1.8 million for the year if the pace continues

A group of migrants gathering at the US-Mexico border fence, captured with a Nikon D850.

The Biden administration has privately informed lawmakers that the US is currently facing a staggering influx of illegal immigrants at the border. On average, 5,000 individuals are being released into the country each day, raising concerns about the administration's ability to manage the border crisis.

Last fiscal year, over 670,000 illegal immigrants were recorded to have evaded Border Patrol. This alarming trend has prompted a briefing to the Arizona congressional delegation and key committees, where Department of Homeland Security officials disclosed that there were approximately 670,000 known 'gotaways' at the border during that period.

In addition, lawmakers were informed that an average of 5,000 illegal immigrants are being released daily to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which offer assistance and sometimes aid in their transportation to desired destinations. Should this pace persist throughout the year, the total number of illegal entrants could exceed 1.8 million.

Meanwhile, at the ports of entry, around 1,600 migrants are being processed and released each day under the CBP One app, utilizing humanitarian parole for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. The administration is facing criticism from Republicans who claim that this authority is being abused and have sought to limit its use.

Border Patrol agents apprehending individuals attempting to cross the border, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Border Patrol agents have encountered migrants from over 150 different countries, illustrating the widespread nature of this crisis. Furthermore, the daily record for encounters at the border was shattered when over 12,000 migrants arrived in a single day. This follows a record-breaking 2.4 million encounters in the previous fiscal year, with September's monthly figure reaching an all-time high of over 260,000.

The Tucson Sector, a focal point of the recent surge, has seen an overwhelming number of mostly male adult migrants lined up against the border fence. Border Patrol officials revealed the staggering ratio of being outnumbered 200 to 1 in the field, underscoring the challenges faced by agents on the ground.

In an effort to address the crisis, the Biden administration has requested additional border funding of $14 billion from Congress. This funding aims to cover migrant care, costs related to expedited removal, and assistance for affected cities. However, this request has faced opposition from Republicans who aim to impose stricter asylum screening standards and reduce parole usage. Some Democrats have also expressed reservations about these proposals.

The administration maintains that it is dealing with a region-wide crisis and requires funding and immigration reform to fix the broken system. While emphasizing the expansion of 'lawful migration pathways,' the administration claims to have increased consequences for illegal entry since the end of Title 42 in May.

NGO volunteers providing assistance to released migrants, photographed with a Sony Alpha a7R III.

During the briefing, officials were questioned about the administration's collaboration with Mexico to address the arrival of masses of migrants via trains. Although concerns were raised about the safety and security of noncitizens riding trains illegally, no specific measures to prevent migrants from boarding trains in the first place were detailed.

President Biden recently expressed openness to significant compromises in order to break the gridlock on solutions for the border crisis. However, a defense of the administration's handling of the situation was also voiced by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who deemed certain GOP proposals off the table.

As the nation grapples with this complex issue, it is essential to explore the range of perspectives and proposals put forward. The urgency of finding a resolution is underscored by the unprecedented scale of the surge in migrant encounters, leaving no doubt that this issue demands immediate attention.