The number of migrant encounters at the southern border dropped from a record 251,000 in December to approximately 150,000 in January, multiple sources tell Fox News — a number that would mark the lowest month since February 2021.
Fox is told that there were approximately 130,000 apprehensions by Border Patrol between ports of entries. Combined with the encounters at ports of entry, the total number for January is expected to be around 150,000, sources said.
That would be the lowest number since February 2021, when there were just over 101,000 encounters after a January that had just over 78,000 encounters. Numbers shot up sharply after that and have remained at historic highs since, with over 1.7 million encounters in FY21 and 2.3 million in FY22. In January 2022, there were 154,874 encounters — which marked the lowest in fiscal year 2022.
While January is typically one of the quieter months at the border, the latest numbers mark a sharp drop from the more than 251,000 encountered in December, which was a new record. Meanwhile, sources said that the number of “gotaways” – illegal immigrants who slipped past agents – dropped to around 48,200, down from the 70,000+ seen in recent months.
The Biden administration has previously noted indicators that numbers in January were tracking lower than December, and connected it directly with border measures rolled out earlier in the month by President Biden. Biden announced a humanitarian parole program for Venezuelans would be expanded to include Nicaraguans, Cubas and Haitians and would allow 30,000 in a month if they did not cross illegally, had a sponsor already in the U.S. and met other conditions.
That was accompanied by an expansion of Title 42 expulsions to include those nationalities, as well as the introduction of a new rule that would bar migrants from claiming asylum in the U.S. if they had passed through a third country without claiming asylum there.
The Department of Homeland Security said that, since then, initial numbers for January show a 97% drop in encounters of those four nationalities. The agency said that encounters from the four countries had dropped from an average of 3,367 a day in December to just 115 a day in January, and touted the numbers as proof that the measures were working.
The border measures were controversial with both left and right. Immigration activists clamed that the measures infringed on a right to claim asylum. Meanwhile, 20 Republican states filed a lawsuit claiming the parole program was in violation of congressional mandates which say parole is only to be used on a “case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”
Republicans have been hammering the Biden administration over the crisis, linking the surge to the administration’s policies — specifically its narrowing of interior enforcement, its call for amnesty for illegal immigrants and its ending of Trump-era border protections.
However, the Biden administration and Democrats have accused Republicans of blocking funding and of failing to pass the immigration reform bill touted by Democrats as a solution to the crisis — but which Republicans have rejected due to its pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
“On top of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he introduced on Day One of his Administration – which Congressional Republicans have blocked – President Biden has taken action on a plan to address these issues – and it is working,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a memo Tuesday.