Migrant apprehensions at southern border drop 14 percent in January
Apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border dropped significantly in January, a sign that regional efforts to deter migration are slowing the northward movement of people.
U.S. authorities recorded 153,941 migrant encounters in January, 14 percent fewer than the 179,219 encounters registered in December.
The border saw drops in the numbers throughout all demographic groups — families, single adults and unaccompanied minors — and among most national origin groups, with the exception of Mexican nationals.
U.S. border officials encountered 59,846 Mexican nationals at the southwest border in January, 16 percent more than the 51,462 encountered in December, but still fewer than the monthly totals during the summer of 2021, and from September through November of that year.
A large majority of Mexican nationals encountered at the border — 52,923 — were processed under Title 42, the Trump-era rule that allows U.S. authorities to immediately expel migrants encountered at the border citing pandemic-related sanitary protections.
The Biden administration has been under intense criticism from human rights groups over its continued implementation of Title 42, amid questions over the rule’s efficacy in countering the spread of coronavirus.
And the rule’s implementation has skewed border apprehension statistics, as individuals expelled to Mexico under Title 42 have few disincentives from attempting to re-cross the border, leading to recidivism.
But the rise in Mexican crossing attempts combined with reductions in encounters with migrants of other nationalities could also be a reflection of increased Mexican government migration enforcement, and of worsening conditions for would-be migrants within Mexico.
Combined, apprehensions of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador totaled 31,414, the lowest full-month number since President Biden took office.
And apprehensions of migrants from other parts of the world also dropped significantly in January, to 62,681, down 21 percent from 79,729 in December.
That decrease marked the first reduction in apprehensions of people from beyond Mexico and Central America during the Biden administration.