Border officials in the U.S. arrested more than 2 million illegal immigrants in the past 11 months at the southern border — a record-high driven by a hike in migration from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, according to figures released by Customs and Border Protection.
There were 203,598 encounters along the southern border in August, a 1.7% increase over July’s 199,976 figure but lower than the 209,840 encounters recorded last August, the CBP said in a release on Monday.
Of those encounters, 55,333 were migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, or Nicaragua, representing a 175% spike from a year ago, the figures show.
At the same time, encounters with migrants from Mexico and Central America fell for the third month in a row — a 43% decrease from a year ago.
Of the August total, the CPB said 157,921 were unique migrant encounters, while the remainder involved repeated encounters with migrants who had already been expelled or deported.
“Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest U.S. border,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement.
With one month to go before the end of fiscal year 2022, the CBP said encounters at the southern border have exceeded 2,150,244. The figures also show that 75,153 individuals encountered last month were expelled under the Title 42 health policy guidelines restricting access to people who may have the coronavirus.
Magnus said that the Biden administration is still working with leaders in Central and South American to address the “root causes of migration” of poverty, escalating crime and political upheaval.
But Republicans, who blame President Biden’s lax immigration policies for opening the floodgates at the border, have seized on the crisis and have been shipping migrants into cities across the country to drive home the burdens an unsecured border can cause.
“Maybe, just maybe, now that this crisis has caught the attention of the mayors of Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago, maybe the Administration will pay attention to those mayors when they’ve ignored this problem so far,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in a statement in response to the CBP figures.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a possible Republican presidential contender in 2024, created a stir last week when he flew 48 migrants – mostly from Venezuela – to the ritzy enclave of Martha’s Vineyard.
DeSantis pointed out the hypocrisy of Democrats who are outraged at his sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard while remaining quiet about the horrendous and dangerous conditions they face trying to cross the US border.
“Millions of people since Biden’s been president, illegally coming across the southern border. Did they freak out about that? No,” DeSantis told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Monday night. “You’ve had migrants die in the Rio Grande — you had 50 die in Texas in a trailer because they were being neglected. Was there a freak out about that? No, there wasn’t.”
“It’s only when 50 [migrants] get put into Martha’s Vineyard” that their outrage emerges, he said.
The crisis at the border has also sparked a feud between Mayor Eric Adams and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott who this summer has been shipping thousands of immigrants by the busload to the Big Apple.
Adams said the city is weighing legal challenges to stop Abbott from relocating migrants from the Lone Star State to New York.
”We’re looking at that,” Adams said on Sunday. “We believe there’s some options we have, because when you involuntarily place someone on a bus, we believe that actually skates the law. And so our legal team is looking at this.”
A spokeswoman for Abbott said their operation was legal.
“Migrants on Texas’ buses willingly chose to go to New York, having signed a voluntary consent waiver available in multiple languages upon boarding that they agreed on the destination,” Renae Eze said.
“Each bus is stocked with food and water and makes stops along the trip to refuel and switch drivers. Migrants are allowed to purchase any needed provisions or disembark at any of these stops, as they have been processed and released by the federal government,” she said.