The number of migrant encounters at the besieged southern border exceeded 250,000 in December, marking the first time on record that encounters have reached that level, multiple sources tell Fox News.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources told Fox the numbers for southern border migrant encounters are above 250,000 for December, which would be even higher than 2022’s peak — which came in May when numbers hit 241,136.
The number comes after two years of a historic crisis at the border that has overwhelmed officials and communities — as well as after nine straight months where migrant encounters hit over 200,000. For comparison, there were only 458,000 migrant encounters in the entirety of FY 2020. FY 2021 then saw more than 1.7 million and FY 2022 broke that record with a staggering 2.3 million encounters.
The sources also said that there were more than 70,000 gotaways at the border, similar to November where there were 73,000 who evaded Border Patrol but were picked up via other methods of surveillance.
The December increase coincided with looming questions over Title 42, the public health order that allowed for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the southern border, which is now before the Supreme Court. The order was scheduled to end on Dec. 21 and migrants were camped out on the Mexican side of the border ahead of the expected ending of the order.
The order did not end as the Supreme Court put a hold on it until it can hear the case in full later this year, but officials had expected a massive surge in migrant numbers — with projections of up to 14,000 a day once the order ended. The Biden administration called for billions in funding for more resources and staffing at the border from Congress, while re-upping calls for a sweeping immigration reform bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
The administration has said it is facing a crisis that is hemisphere-wide, not just limited to the U.S., and has blamed the Trump administration’s closing of legal asylum pathways along with ‘root causes’ like corruption and poverty in Central America. Biden earlier this month also pointed to a ‘broken’ immigration system.
‘But instead of safe and orderly process at the border, we have a patchwork system that simply doesn’t work as it should,’ he said, calling on Republicans in Congress to pass and fund his immigration bill first proposed in 2021.
But the political pressure has only been rising on the administration as Republicans, border officials and even some Democrats have taken aim at its handling of the crisis, with Democratic mayors in New York City and elsewhere demanding more help from the administration.
President Biden last week visited the border in El Paso, meeting with election officials and taking a tour of the border wall. His administration also recently announced a number of measures they hope will decrease illegal migration — including an expanded parole pathway and an expansion of Title 42 expulsions to include some Nicaraguans, Cubans and Haitians — whose numbers have increased in recent months.
The administration also announced a rule that would make asylum seekers ineligible if they had transited through multiple countries but not claimed asylum there first — a measure that has drawn criticism from left-wing groups, including the U.N. for allegedly limiting a legal right to claim asylum in the U.S. no matter how they entered the country.