By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – A record 2.7 million enforcement actions were made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in fiscal 2022, according to new data released late Friday.
Total enforcement actions made against foreign nationals illegally entering the U.S., including apprehensions, removals and those being released into the U.S. totaled 2,766,582 between Oct. 1, 2021, and Sept. 30, 2022 – the most ever and more than the individual populations of 15 U.S. states.
It’s a significant increase from the prior fiscal year, when CBP made 1,956,519 enforcement actions. During the Trump administration, total enforcement actions were 646,822 in fiscal 2020; 1,148,024 in fiscal 2019; 683,178 in fiscal 2018; and 526,901 in fiscal 2017.
The totals are derived from U.S. Border Patrol and Office of Fields Operations data.
In September, there were 227,547 encounters along the southwest border, a 12% increase from August. Among them, 19% were individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, CBP notes.
Encounters increased across the board: nearly 71%, 161,381, were single adults, a 15% increase from August.
Unaccompanied children encounters increased by 5% from August, totaling 11,900; family unit individuals totaled 54,079, an increase of 4% from August.
Tom Homan, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Center Square, “The Biden administration has consistently violated their responsibility to secure our border. It has long been clear that our borders are open – now these numbers should erase any remaining doubt. We have simply never seen these numbers before in our history, and the Biden open-borders policies are the reason.”
The 2.7 million encounters “shattered the all-time record, which was also set by the Biden administration just last year,” he added. In addition, “CBP recorded more than 600,000 known got-aways since last October, bringing the total number of known got-aways under Biden and DHS Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas to more than 1 million.”
Got-aways are those who illegally enter the U.S. in-between ports of entry to intentionally evade law enforcement.
“CBP also recorded 98 apprehensions of aliens on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database, dwarfing total such encounters from the previous 5 years combined of 26,” he said.
CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus attributed “a new wave of migration” impacting the U.S. southern border to the “failing regimes of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.”
Despite this, he said, “the number of Venezuelans arriving at the southern border decreased sharply nearly every day since we launched additional joint actions with Mexico to reduce irregular migration and create a more fair, orderly and safe process for people fleeing the humanitarian and economic crisis in their country.
“Over the past week, the number of Venezuelans attempting to enter the country fell more than 80 percent compared to the week prior to the launch of the joint enforcement actions. While this early data is not reflected in the latest report, it confirms what we’ve said all along: when there is a lawful and orderly way to enter the country, individuals will be less likely to put their lives in the hands of smugglers and try to cross the border unlawfully.”
He also said, “CBP and DHS will continue to work with our partners in the region to address the root causes of migration, expand legal pathways, facilitate removals, and take thousands of smugglers off the streets. No matter what smugglers say, those who do not have a legal basis to remain in the country will be removed and people should not make the dangerous journey.”
But on Friday, former acting DHS deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli said, “Mayorkas and Magnus are failing to do their job and are turning their backs on the men and women of CBP and Americans to run interference for drug runners and human traffickers.”
He, Mr. Homan, and former COO and acting Commissioner of CBP Mark Morgan had announced that if DHS didn’t release the latest data by Tuesday, they would. The administration has generally released it around the 15th of the month.
Mr. Morgan told The Center Square that CPB quietly released the data on Friday evening at 11 p.m. after their threat.
“The late night release was a blatant attempt to lessen the coverage of the self-inflicted worst crisis at our southern border in our life-time,” he said. The Biden administration set historic highs in every area, he notes, from the 2.7 million encounters to the “98 aliens on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database – more than the last 5 years combined.”
Mr. Morgan told The Center Square, “The primary responsibility of our federal government, is to protect American citizens and our interests. The Biden administration – from Joe Biden, to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, to CBP Chief Chris Magnus – have knowingly, willfully, and consistently violated that responsibility.”
Because of “the overwhelming numbers of illegal aliens and otherwise inadmissible aliens flooding our border,” he said, Border Patrol agents and resources “have been pulled off the front line, away from their national security mission. This has left the border wide open for the cartels to exploit – pushing deadly drugs, criminals, and potential national security threats across our borders.”
Mr. Morgan also is calling on Congress to act.
“It’s time for Congress to step up and do their job by holding this administration accountable for the chaos and carnage they have unleashed on our southwest border,” Mr. Morgan said. “Their first action should be to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, who has served as the administration’s chief architect of their open-border policies and continues to lie to the American people about it. How many more Americans have to die and suffer before we say enough is enough?”