In January 2022, migrant encounters at the southern border increased by 321 percent from the same time during President Trump’s final full year, according to preliminary data found in a court filing.
Immigration authorities reportedly encountered 153,941 migrants at the southern border in January 2022, which is about four times larger than the 36,585 the Trump administration encountered in January 2020.
The newly obtained figures also represent a more than 96 percent increase from the same time last year—the first month of the Biden presidency. Immigration authorities encountered 78,414 migrants in January 2021.
Despite these alarming findings, outlets like CBS News touted the results, arguing that the “number represents the second-highest month-to-month drop in migrant apprehensions during the Biden administration, “is the lowest level since February 2021,” and is a “14 percent” decrease from the previous month.
There is little reason to view a modest decline from historically high numbers as a success or promising trend. “Only” 153,941 border encounters in a single month is hardly a cause for celebration.
Border encounters typically decline during the winter months. Cold weather deters migrants from making the trek to the U.S.-Mexico border. Holidays, like Christmas at the end of December, may also deter migrants from trekking to the southern border so that they can remain with families at home. Given the large number of Catholic-dominant countries in Latin America—the region representing the vast majority of border crossers—Christmas week is generally taken very seriously here.
Moreover, and most importantly, the Biden administration did not change any policy during the past couple of months that would have contributed to a decrease in border encounters. It has still suspended border security initiatives, like the construction of the southern border wall and the Asylum Cooperation Agreements (ACAs) with the Northern Triangle countries. It has issued guidance that limits who, where, and how those unlawfully present can be arrested and removed from the country, all while rendering the “Remain in Mexico” program virtually nonexistent despite receiving a federal court order to reimplement it in good faith.
There is no reason to believe that border encounters will decrease in the ensuing months due to the Biden administration’s immigration and border policies. The administration has dismantled the nation’s immigration and border apparatus and has shown no intention of ever restoring it.
CBS News may have painted a rosy picture at the border using this January’s preliminary data, but it will have a much more difficult time in the upcoming months. That’s for certain.