U.S. Customs and Border Protection has made the highest number of illegal immigrant arrests along the U.S.-Mexico border ever recorded in the last year, according to a report.
As-yet unpublished CBP data reported by the Washington Post indicates more than 1.7 million border arrests were made in the 2021 fiscal year, which ended in September. The surge of illegal immigration began last year but reached its peak in July and August, when more than 200,000 migrants were taken into custody by U.S. law enforcement each month.
Arrests made in the last fiscal year break a record set in 1986, when President Ronald Reagan signed a sweeping immigration reform bill that granted amnesty and a pathway to U.S. citizenship for migrants who entered the country illegally before 1982. In that year, Border Patrol made 1.69 million arrests, the Post reported.
The most Border Patrol apprehensions were made in the Rio Grande Valley sector, where 549,000 arrests were made. Another 259,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended in the Del Rio sector.
This record-breaking surge of illegal immigration began after President Joe Biden won the White House, promising on the campaign trail to reverse former President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policies. After taking office, Biden stopped construction of Trump's border wall, ended the "Remain in Mexico" policy for asylum-seekers, and announced a 100-day pause on most deportations.
Republican critics of the president say reversing Trump's policies and promising to pass widespread amnesty for illegal immigrants has incentivized the surge in migration from Central and South America. Republicans have repeatedly sought to have Biden administration officials label the surge a "crisis," to no avail.
Most recently, Biden's CBP director nominee Chris Magnus, the police chief of Tucson police, Arizona, was pressed by Republican senators on the surge of migrants crossing the southern border. Though Magnus said the surge was a "significant challenge" and the numbers were "very high," he would not use the word "crisis."
"If we spent a little less time debating on what the terminology is and perhaps a little more time trying to fix a broken system and working together, we could address what I've already acknowledged is one of the most serious problems that we face right now in our nation," Magnus said.
Biden appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the administration's efforts to secure the border and address the "root causes" of illegal immigration, but the Post acknowledged her strategy has "had little to no measurable effect."
Most migrants apprehended last year were Mexican nationals, which accounted for 608,000 of the arrests. The second largest group of migrants were from outside Mexico and Central America, which included Haitians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, Cubans, Brazilians, and migrants from dozens of other nations, accounting for 367,000 arrests.
Arrests of migrants from Honduras (309,000), Guatemala (279,000) and El Salvador (96,000) made up the remaining apprehensions.
The Post reported that more than 1.3 million illegal immigrants have been taken into custody since Biden assumed office in January.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is facing legal challenges to its about-face on Trump's policies. The administration is currently negotiating with Mexico to temporarily reinstate the "Remain in Mexico" policy after a federal court determined Biden had acted illegally in ending the policy. The president's attempt to pause deportations was also blocked in federal court.
One Trump policy Biden has continued to enforce is the Title 42 public health policy to rapidly "expel" adult border crossers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the administration is under fire from immigration activists angered by the policy, who staged a virtual walkout last weekend during a meeting with White House policy advisers.