SAN DIEGO (HPD) — A spike in migration from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua in September raised the number of unauthorized border crossings to the highest level ever recorded in a fiscal year, according to U.S. Customs and United States Border Protection (CBP).
The numbers reflect deteriorating economic and political conditions in some countries, the relative strength of the US economy and the uneven implementation of Trump-era asylum restrictions.
Migrants were stopped 227,547 times in September at the border with Mexico, the third highest monthly total in the presidency of Joe Biden. That represented an increase of 11% compared to the 204,087 arrests in August and 18.5% compared to 192,001 in September 2021.
In the fiscal year that ended on September 30, migrants were stopped 2.38 million times, an increase of 37% from the 1.73 million a year earlier, according to figures released Friday by the night. The annual total surpassed 2 million for the first time in August and is more than double the highest level recorded during Trump’s presidency in 2019.
About 78,000 migrants from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua were stopped in September, compared to about 58,000 from Mexico and three Central American countries that have historically accounted for the bulk of the flow.
The remarkable geographic change is a result at least in part of Title 42, a public health rule that suspends rights to seek asylum under US and international law to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Due to strained diplomatic relations, the United States cannot expel migrants to Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua. As a result, they are mostly released into the United States to proceed with their asylum application process.
Title 42-based removals have been carried out 2.4 million times since it began in March 2020, but have disproportionately affected migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
U.S. and Mexican officials noted Friday that Venezuelan migration to the United States has fallen 80% since Oct. 12, when Washington began expelling Venezuelans to Mexico under the Title 42 rule. At the same time, the Biden administration promised to admit up to 24,000 Venezuelans to the country for humanitarian reasons if they applied online with a financial sponsor and enter through an airport, in the same way that thousands of Ukrainians have arrived since Russia invaded their country in February.
“Although these preliminary data are not reflected in the (September) report, they confirm what we have always said: When there is a legal and orderly way to enter the country, people are less likely to risk their lives at the hands of traffickers and to try of crossing the border illegally,” said CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus.
The expansion of the Title 42 law to expel Venezuelan migrants to Mexico came despite efforts by the Biden administration to suspend it in May, which were blocked by a federal judge.
Venezuelans represented the second largest nationality at the border, after Mexicans, for the second month in a row, being stopped 33,804 times in September, an increase of 33% from the 25,361 times in August.
Cubans, who make up the largest exodus from the island to the United States since 1980, were stopped 26,178 times at the border in September, a 37% increase from 19,060 in August.
Nicaraguans were stopped 18,199 times in September, 55% more than the 7,298 times in August.