Adam Isacson

Defense, security, borders, migration, and human rights in Latin America and the United States. May not reflect my employer’s consensus view.

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Charts and Infographics

A Big Drop in Venezuelan Migration This Year—But Only in the United States

Mexico just posted its February migration numbers… there must be a huge number of people from Venezuela bottled up in Mexico right now.

2024 numbers from PanamaHonduras (change the dates in search)Mexico (click on “Personas en situación migratoria irregular” then Table 3.1.1) – U.S. (CBP / my search of CBP numbers for 2024)

An Odd Lull in Springtime Migration

Sector chiefs’ weekly Twitter updates point to a mid-March drop in migration in Tucson, Arizona and San Diego, California, the two Border Patrol U.S.-Mexico border sectors that have been encountering the most migrants so far this year.

This is not the usual trend. March—and spring in general—is usually a time of steadily increasing migration, until temperatures get too high. In recent years, though, this has become less predictable, as policy changes, internet-driven rumors, and smuggling patterns have had more effect on the numbers of arriving people.

CBP Reports that January Border Migration Dropped Sharply

Late this afternoon—right around the time House Republicans were impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas—CBP released data showing that Border Patrol’s apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border dropped by 50 percent from December to January.

I’ve got monthly Border Patrol data going back to October 1999, and 50 percent is the steepest one-month drop of all of those 24+ years. Steeper than the first full month of the pandemic (April 2020). Steeper than the first full month after Title 42 ended (June 2023).

It’s peculiar that migration dropped so much over two months during which no policy changes were announced. I’ll repeat the most probable reasons, as laid out in WOLA’s January 26 Border Update.

  • According to a few accounts, numerous people sought to cross the U.S. border before the end of 2023 because they were misled by rumors indicating that the border would “close,” or that the CBP One app would no longer work, by year’s end.
  • Seasonal patterns are a factor: migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have fallen from December to January every year since 2014 (except for a 6 percent increase in January 2021). Rainy conditions in the Darién Gap corridor straddling Colombia and Panama, and a tendency not to migrate during Christmas, may also explain some of the reduction.
  • U.S. officials are crediting Mexico with reducing migrant arrivals by stepping up patrols, checkpoints, transfers, and deportations.

Also, while there were no policy changes, there was one under heavy discussion: the Senate “border deal” that died a quick death on February 7. The spread of vague, confusing news about impending asylum restrictions could have cooled migration more than usual last month.

Anyway, here are two charts.

Here is all migration at the border, combining people apprehended by Border Patrol and people who, mainly with appointments, showed up at land ports of entry. This is what it looks like when the heaviest month for migration on record at the U.S.-Mexico border is followed by the third-lightest month of the Biden administration’s 36 months.

Data table since FY2020

And here is just Border Patrol’s apprehensions of migrants between ports of entry. Look at Venezuela: apprehensions of Venezuelan citizens fell by 91 percent from December to January. This does seem to point to everyone feeling like they needed to cross to the United States before 2023 ended, leaving few on the Mexican side after the new year.

Data table

Darién Gap Migration Through January

At some point last month, the 500,000th Venezuelan migrant of the 2020s crossed the Darién Gap. 61 percent of everyone who has migrated through this region in this decade has been a citizen of Venezuela.

Data table

The latest data from Panama show that 36,001 people migrated through the treacherous Darién Gap region in January. That’s an increase from December, reversing four months of declines. But it is still the fourth-smallest monthly total of the last twelve months.

At some point last month, the 500,000th Venezuelan migrant of the 2020s crossed the Darién Gap. 61 percent of everyone who has migrated through this region in this decade has been a citizen of Venezuela.

Actually, to be precise: the 500,000th Venezuelan migrant since 2022 crossed the Darién Gap last month. Out of 503,805 Venezuelan migrants between January 2000 and January 2024, 500,917 came in the last 25 months. There were about 30 million people living in Venezuela: so 1 out of every 60 has walked this nightmare jungle route. In 25 months.

The 30,000th Chinese citizen of the 2020s crossed the Darién last month. A year ago (after January 2023), the decade’s total migration from China was just 2,998 people.

January Migration Lull Seems to be Ending

After dipping sharply after the holidays, the number of people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border appears to be increasing again.

That, at least, is the trend that we can discern from the weekly updates that the Border Patrol chiefs in Tucson and San Diego, two of the busiest of the agency’s nine U.S.-Mexico border sectors, have been posting to their Twitter accounts.

Expelling Migrants From the Border Doesn’t Reduce Migration at the Border

Data table

A Senate deal on Ukraine, Israel, and border funding might include new restrictions on the right to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, satisfying Republican legislators’ demand. Of what we know, the most radical of these would be a new legal authority shutting the border to asylum seekers when the daily average of migrant apprehensions exceeds 5,000.

That would trigger a new “Title 42” authority expelling people out of the United States (if Mexico agrees to take them), regardless of protection needs.

On January 27, President Biden described this as an “emergency authority to shut down the border until it can get back under control.” He added, “If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now and fix it quickly.

We keep hearing this notion that more expelled asylum seekers equals fewer migrants at the border. But that’s not what happened during the Title 42 period (March 2020 to May 2023).

True, there was a decline in arrivals of would-be asylum-seekers from nationalities whose expulsions Mexico would accept. But the number of people from other countries, and of all people seeking to evade Border Patrol, grew sharply.

Migration ballooned during the Title 42 “expulsions” period. Title 42 was in place:

  • In the last 9 full months of the Trump administration, when migrant encounters shot upward, from 17,106 in April 2020 (the pandemic lockdown’s first full month) to 73,994 in December 2020.
  • in early 2021, when south Texas Border Patrol processing facilities were overwhelmed with child and family arrivals;
  • in September 2021, when more than 10,000 Haitian asylum seekers came to Del Rio, Texas all at once;
  • in September-December 2022, when more than 200,000 people—more than half of them from Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela—crossed into Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector.

This was not a time when the border was “fixed.”

If the Senate deal results in a new expulsion authority, it might bring the numbers down at the border for a few months, as all “get-tough” strategies against migration tend to do. But as we saw in 2020-2023, migration will recover despite the expulsions, after a period of adjustment—perhaps by Election Day.

At Least 545,000 People—Many From Outside the Americas—Migrated Through Honduras in 2023

As we noted in a June report, Honduras keeps a reasonably accurate count of migrants transiting its territory, because it requires people to register with the government in order to have permission to board a bus. A minority travel with smugglers and don’t register, but most do.

Honduras also reports the nationalities of “irregular” migrants in something close to real time, so here’s what in-transit migration looked like through December.

Data table

The top 15 nationalities transiting Honduras during December were:

  1. Venezuela 13,803 (32% of 42,637 total)
  2. Cuba 8,997 (21%)
  3. Guinea 3,558 (8%)
  4. Ecuador 3,324 (8%)
  5. Haiti 3,001 (7%)
  6. China 2,121 (5%)
  7. India 1,472 (3%)
  8. Colombia 1,461 (3%)
  9. Senegal 706 (2%)
  10. Chile (children of Haitians) 456 (1%)
  11. Afghanistan 325 (1%)
  12. Vietnam 325 (1%)
  13. Peru 305 (1%)
  14. Brazil 249 (some children of Haitians) (1%)
  15. Angola 222 (1%)

The top 15 nationalities during all of 2023 were:

  1. Venezuela 228,889 (42% of 545,364 total)
  2. Cuba 85,969 (16%)
  3. Haiti 82,249 (15%)
  4. Ecuador 46,086 (8%)
  5. Colombia 13,136 (2%)
  6. Guinea 12,902 (2%)
  7. China 12,184 (2%)
  8. Senegal 8,964 (2%)
  9. Mauritania 5,816 (1%)
  10. Uzbekistan 5,153 (1%)
  11. India 4,366 (1%)
  12. Chile (children of Haitians) 3,004 (1%)
  13. Egypt 2,845 (1%)
  14. Afghanistan 2,729 (1%)
  15. Angola 2,640 (0.5%)

A few things are notable about this data:

  1. Nationalities from Asia and Africa are heavily represented. The Americas made up just 8 of December’s top 15 countries, and 6 of 2023’s top 15 countries. The situation in the Darién Gap is similar: only 7 of the top 15 nationalities counted by Panamanian authorities during the first 11 months of 2023 were Latin American or Caribbean.
  2. The total is similar to that measured in the Darién Gap. Panama’s Public Security Ministry reported on Monday that a stunning 520,085 migrants passed through the Darien Gap in 2023. Honduras reported a similarly stunning 545,364. Both are more than double 2022’s totals.
  3. Honduras’s total is greater than the Darién Gap, even though some migrants don’t register, because it includes many migrants who arrived by air in Nicaragua. Honduras’s neighbor to the south lies north of the Darién Gap, making it unnecessary to take that treacherous route, and does not require visas of visitors from most of the world. A growing number of people from Cuba, Haiti, and other continents have been taking circuitous commercial air routes, or often charter planes like one halted in France two weeks ago, to arrive in Managua and then travel overland to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Much of the increase in migration through Honduras reflects the growth of that route—especially those from African countries, whose numbers declined in the Darién Gap because Nicaragua presented a safer, shorter alternative. (Darién Gap travelers from outside the Americas often fly first to Ecuador or Brazil.)

December 2023 Set a New U.S.-Mexico Border Monthly Migration Record

Update January 29, 2024: CBP has released final December 2023 data. Read an updated post with nine charts illustrating migration trends.

Border Patrol shares monthly data about its apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border since October 1999. As this chart shows, during that time, the number of migrant apprehensions in a single month has never exceeded 225,000. (224,370 in May 2022, 222,018 in December 2022, 220,063 in March 2000.)

Data table

That threshold has now been passed. CBS News’s Camilo Montoya-Galvez reported yesterday, “U.S. Border Patrol agents took into custody more than 225,000 migrants who crossed the southern border—in between official crossings—during the first 27 days of December, according to the preliminary Department of Homeland Security [DHS] statistics.”

(This number does not include approximately 50,000 more migrants who come each month to ports of entry—official border crossings—usually with appointments.)

Montoya-Galvez shared Border Patrol’s daily averages, showing modest decline in migrant arrivals over the past week:

The current spike in migration peaked before Christmas, during the week starting on Dec. 14 and ending on Dec. 20, when Border Patrol averaged 9,773 daily apprehensions, according to the data. On several days that week, the agency processed more than 10,000 migrants in 24 hours.

Unlawful crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border have decreased this week, but remain at historically high levels. On Wednesday, Border Patrol processed 7,759 migrants, the statistics show.

In his morning press conference yesterday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador shared this slide of data from Customs and Border Protection (CBP, Border Patrol’s parent agency), depicting CBP’s monthly migrant encounters through the first 17 days of December. This slide appears to combine Border Patrol apprehensions with CBP’s port-of-entry encounters, so the numbers are a bit higher.

Combining encounters with migrants at the ports of entry and between them, the chart shows a daily average of 9,787 people per day over December 1-17, increasing to 10,187 per day over December 1-21.

The chart shows a sharp increase in daily arrivals of Venezuelan citizens, whose numbers dropped in October and November after the Biden administration’s October 5 announcement that it was resuming deportation flights to Caracas.

There have since been 11 such flights, DHS reported on December 27. It appears that despite the (not huge) risk of being on one of these roughly one-per-week flights, Venezuelan asylum seekers are again coming in greater numbers.

Mexico Encountered a Record 97,969 Migrants in November

The Mexican government just released new data showing that it recorded 97,969 “events of people in irregular migratory situation” during November 2023. That’s 5 percent more than October, and sets a new record for the most migrant encounters that Mexico has ever recorded in a month:

Mexico’s Apprehensions of All Migrants,
January 2001-November 2023

Jan-01	14061
Feb-01	17965
Mar-01	20613
Apr-01	15770
May-01	17368
Jun-01	13947
Jul-01	13283
Aug-01	12731
Sep-01	9740
Oct-01	5423
Nov-01	4727
Dec-01	4902
Jan-02	8968
Feb-02	10722
Mar-02	11443
Apr-02	13930
May-02	15040
Jun-02	12784
Jul-02	13415
Aug-02	11996
Sep-02	11781
Oct-02	10607
Nov-02	9686
Dec-02	7689
Jan-03	11556
Feb-03	14945
Mar-03	16998
Apr-03	11558
May-03	20391
Jun-03	19253
Jul-03	18046
Aug-03	18027
Sep-03	16409
Oct-03	16480
Nov-03	14302
Dec-03	9649
Jan-04	15242
Feb-04	19095
Mar-04	21434
Apr-04	20526
May-04	20726
Jun-04	18204
Jul-04	19715
Aug-04	17936
Sep-04	17999
Oct-04	18240
Nov-04	16559
Dec-04	10019
Jan-05	17673
Feb-05	22118
Mar-05	24267
Apr-05	24509
May-05	20592
Jun-05	19922
Jul-05	19657
Aug-05	20376
Sep-05	20630
Oct-05	16208
Nov-05	20545
Dec-05	13772
Jan-06	21867
Feb-06	24547
Mar-06	24892
Apr-06	19234
May-06	16870
Jun-06	12926
Jul-06	11487
Aug-06	12183
Sep-06	12480
Oct-06	10601
Nov-06	10109
Dec-06	5509
Jan-07	11215
Feb-07	11910
Mar-07	12473
Apr-07	11796
May-07	12004
Jun-07	11095
Jul-07	10846
Aug-07	12520
Sep-07	9047
Oct-07	7292
Nov-07	6431
Dec-07	3826
Jan-08	8970
Feb-08	10787
Mar-08	9305
Apr-08	11031
May-08	9747
Jun-08	8394
Jul-08	7585
Aug-08	6705
Sep-08	6521
Oct-08	6894
Nov-08	5506
Dec-08	3278
Jan-09	5943
Feb-09	6246
Mar-09	6884
Apr-09	6742
May-09	5701
Jun-09	6872
Jul-09	5718
Aug-09	5789
Sep-09	6039
Oct-09	5450
Nov-09	4388
Dec-09	3261
Jan-10	4759
Feb-10	5796
Mar-10	7336
Apr-10	6695
May-10	7075
Jun-10	6378
Jul-10	6760
Aug-10	6755
Sep-10	5098
Oct-10	4714
Nov-10	5077
Dec-10	3659
Jan-11	4430
Feb-11	5087
Mar-11	6695
Apr-11	6471
May-11	7852
Jun-11	5717
Jul-11	5215
Aug-11	5299
Sep-11	5586
Oct-11	5453
Nov-11	5267
Dec-11	3511
Jan-12	6343
Feb-12	7442
Mar-12	9291
Apr-12	8732
May-12	8874
Jun-12	8082
Jul-12	6860
Aug-12	6496
Sep-12	8746
Oct-12	7879
Nov-12	6364
Dec-12	3397
Jan-13	6699
Feb-13	7407
Mar-13	8290
Apr-13	7951
May-13	7718
Jun-13	7370
Jul-13	7471
Aug-13	7443
Sep-13	6657
Oct-13	7549
Nov-13	7300
Dec-13	4443
Jan-14	6295
Feb-14	8317
Mar-14	10502
Apr-14	8621
May-14	10132
Jun-14	12515
Jul-14	11005
Aug-14	11618
Sep-14	11111
Oct-14	13700
Nov-14	13671
Dec-14	9662
Jan-15	18299
Feb-15	14885
Mar-15	16569
Apr-15	17085
May-15	19402
Jun-15	17152
Jul-15	17195
Aug-15	17088
Sep-15	15450
Oct-15	18232
Nov-15	14755
Dec-15	12029
Jan-16	11218
Feb-16	11420
Mar-16	14253
Apr-16	16700
May-16	16454
Jun-16	14850
Jul-16	13604
Aug-16	16502
Sep-16	19811
Oct-16	20494
Nov-16	17579
Dec-16	13331
Jan-17	10553
Feb-17	7275
Mar-17	5905
Apr-17	5243
May-17	7071
Jun-17	7471
Jul-17	7863
Aug-17	9171
Sep-17	7757
Oct-17	9678
Nov-17	9227
Dec-17	6632
Jan-18	9248
Feb-18	11549
Mar-18	11779
Apr-18	11486
May-18	10350
Jun-18	9577
Jul-18	8965
Aug-18	13560
Sep-18	13903
Oct-18	18895
Nov-18	12663
Dec-18	6637
Jan-19	8521
Feb-19	10194
Mar-19	13508
Apr-19	21197
May-19	23241
Jun-19	31396
Jul-19	19822
Aug-19	16066
Sep-19	13517
Oct-19	12256
Nov-19	9727
Dec-19	7305
Jan-20	14119
Feb-20	8377
Mar-20	8421
Apr-20	2628
May-20	2251
Jun-20	2304
Jul-20	4737
Aug-20	7445
Sep-20	8831
Oct-20	12253
Nov-20	9557
Dec-20	6337
Jan-21	9564
Feb-21	12893
Mar-21	18548
Apr-21	22968
May-21	20091
Jun-21	19249
Jul-21	25830
Aug-21	43031
Sep-21	46370
Oct-21	41580
Nov-21	29264
Dec-21	18291
Jan-22	23382
Feb-22	24304
Mar-22	30753
Apr-22	31206
May-22	33290
Jun-22	30423
Jul-22	33902
Aug-22	42719
Sep-22	43792
Oct-22	52201
Nov-22	49485
Dec-22	48982
Jan-23	37360
Feb-23	38041
Mar-23	44628
Apr-23	24993
May-23	40024
Jun-23	58265
Jul-23	73515
Aug-23	82350
Sep-23	96542
Oct-23	93045
Nov-23	97969

Data table

Migrants came from 111 countries. Of nationalities with more than 1,000 migrant encounters, those that increased the most from October to November were Mauritania (119%), the Dominican Republic (92%), and Honduras (65%). Those that declined the most from October to November were Cuba (-52%), Senegal (-28%), and Guinea (-11%). Venezuela, the number-one nationality, declined 8 percent.

Mexico’s Migrant Apprehensions (Since 2022)

November 2023: Venezuela 27%, Honduras 15%, Haiti 10%, Guatemala 9%, Ecuador 8%, All Others <4%

Since January 2022: Venezuela 26%, Honduras 16%, Guatemala 13%, Ecuador 7%, Cuba 6%, Nicaragua 5%, All Others <5%

Data table

Even as Mexico measured an increase in migration in November, two countries to the south, Panama and Honduras, reported double-digit percentage decreases.

Unusual: Even as Migration Drops Along the U.S.-Bound Route, It Jumps at the Border

According to leaked CBP data, U.S. authorities encountered 14,509 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border yesterday (December 18). That’s probably about 13,000 Border Patrol apprehensions between ports of entry (official border crossings) and about 1,500 people reporting to the ports of entry, nearly always with appointments made using the “CBP One” app.

That’s almost certainly the largest number of migrant arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border in any day since at least 2000.

Aaron at the American Immigration Council says this increase, which seems to have begun in November, “is driven partly by rumors that the border will close soon and the CBP One app will be shut down.” That may explain it. A funding crisis at Mexico’s migration agency (National Migration Institute, INM) could also be a factor.

This is really unusual, though, because migration data further south along the U.S.-bound migration route would lead one to expect the numbers at the U.S.-Mexico border to be declining. Panama, Honduras, and Mexico have been reporting fewer people coming after record-breaking levels in late summer and early fall.

Here’s Panama: a 24 percent decline in migration through the Darién Gap from October to November, and a 50 percent decline in migration from September to November. So, fewer people departing the South American continent.

Monthly Migration Through Panama’s Darién Gap

November 2023: Venezuela 61%, China 11%, Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile) 9%, Ecuador 8%, Colombia 5%, all others <1%

Since January 2020: Venezuela 53%, Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile) 21%, Ecuador 9%, all others <3%

Data table

Here’s Honduras: down 41 percent from October to November. So, fewer people coming from South America and through the increasingly used aerial entry point in Nicaragua.

Honduras’s “Irregular” Migrant Encounters (Since August 2022)

November 2023: Venezuela 44%, Cuba 20%, Haiti 9%, Ecuador 6%, Guinea 5%, China 4%, All Others <4%

Since August 2022: Venezuela 41%, Cuba 18%, Haiti 14%, Ecuador 10%, Colombia 2.2%, All Others <2% 

	Venezuela	Cuba	Haiti	Ecuador	Colombia	China	Guinea	Senegal	Mauritania	Other Countries
22-Aug	10769	6899	836	1583	314	42	19	118	18	2278
22-Sep	11325	5144	863	1685	379	45	23	135	14	2220
22-Oct	14027	5290	1856	5793	723	99	30	185	18	3037
22-Nov	3756	9219	2858	5130	400	186	34	158	38	3857
22-Dec	1923	7225	2518	6557	231	405	22	87	63	4034
23-Jan	1866	2079	5365	4562	296	415	72	202	31	4054
23-Feb	4462	629	4092	5010	449	688	97	159	71	4449
23-Mar	9112	776	2991	2493	624	719	90	191	88	4576
23-Apr	10883	1301	2392	1692	682	985	87	472	87	4350
23-May	11809	2397	1629	2147	654	801	277	831	427	4398
23-Jun	12698	3254	1305	2817	488	1045	118	390	1801	2870
23-Jul	25050	6721	1558	6116	954	980	389	1398	2036	3769
23-Aug	35669	11343	4051	5789	1330	654	1005	1629	1036	3020
23-Sep	42550	19288	14898	4830	2174	570	1762	1066	48	3453
23-Oct	34547	17513	35529	3581	2021	1006	2304	1235	75	4198
23-Nov	26440	11671	5438	3725	2003	2200	3143	685	87	4395

Data table

And here’s Mexico: down 4 percent from September to October (Mexico, like the United States, has not reported November yet).

Mexico’s Migrant Apprehensions (Since 2022)

October 2023: Venezuela 30%, Haiti 11%, Honduras 10%, Cuba 8%, Ecuador 7.5%, Guatemala 7.1%, All Others <4%

Since January 2022: Venezuela 26%, Honduras 16%, Guatemala 13%, Ecuador 7%, Cuba 6%, Nicaragua 5.2%, All Others <5%

	Venezuela	Honduras	Guatemala	Ecuador	Cuba	Nicaragua	Colombia	El Salvador	Haiti	Other Countries
22-Jan	2733	5841	6304	246	2214	2234	503	1565	368	1374
22-Feb	1120	5929	5191	202	3384	1843	2986	1721	254	1674
22-Mar	1209	6390	6075	276	6333	2701	3375	2338	205	1851
22-Apr	1960	6457	6920	513	6103	2854	1746	2579	304	1770
22-May	1640	7544	7222	780	3191	3474	3031	3307	246	2855
22-Jun	3919	6507	7010	668	2481	1561	2840	1990	110	3337
22-Jul	6431	7461	6578	719	2550	2182	2169	2936	145	2731
22-Aug	16885	5741	4927	1185	2159	2327	2479	2544	174	4298
22-Sep	15381	5309	4932	1528	3244	4062	2704	2471	223	3938
22-Oct	21781	5475	4632	3266	3247	5711	2179	2144	308	3458
22-Nov	12298	5895	5380	4459	3318	7329	2225	2379	505	5697
22-Dec	11721	4379	4344	8314	3251	4547	2041	1271	1605	7509
23-Jan	5329	3911	4015	6081	2919	2200	964	1234	2319	8388
23-Feb	6721	5202	4249	7003	384	408	1435	1234	2971	8434
23-Mar	9119	6053	6025	3126	237	205	3170	1793	3769	11131
23-Apr	6725	3759	3303	1018	156	164	1369	1118	1658	5723
23-May	17258	5034	3259	2187	472	225	1258	834	1496	8001
23-Jun	18480	11162	6952	4559	1021	883	1313	1474	1573	10848
23-Jul	24236	15450	7484	6115	1837	1762	1756	1854	1951	11070
23-Aug	21936	20139	12673	7328	1320	1939	2450	2533	1258	10774
23-Sep	30560	12059	9146	8199	5022	2829	3905	2603	4079	18140
23-Oct	28275	8954	6600	6937	7202	1887	3055	2656	10646	16696

Data table

Why are the numbers up so much at the U.S. border when they’re down everywhere else along the route? The answer probably has to do with:

  • A jump in migration from citizens of Mexico and Central American, and/or
  • Crossings of Venezuelans and others who had arrived in Mexico more than 1-2 months ago, and perhaps are now giving up on waiting for CBP One.

Also, If recent Decembers are a guide, the U.S. border numbers could be on the verge of dropping. The first halves of December 2021 and December 2022 saw very heavy migration, capping off growth that accelerated all fall (as did the fall of 2023). Numbers dropped during the second halves of those Decembers, as the holidays approached.

Border Patrol Apprehensions by Country at the U.S.-Mexico Border

October 2023: Mexico 26%, Venezuela 16%, Guatemala 12%, Honduras 10%, Colombia 7%, Ecuador 6%, El Salvador 3%, All Others <3% 

Since October 2020: Mexico 33%, Guatemala 12.2%, Honduras 11.6%, Venezuela 8%, Cuba 6%, Nicaragua 5.2%, All Others <5%

Data table

Darién Gap Migration Fell in November

Panama has just posted statistics detailing migration through the treacherous Darién Gap region through November. They show the number of migrants passing through the Darién dropping for the third straight month, to less than half of August and September levels. November was 24 percent lighter than October.

Monthly Migration Through Panama’s Darién Gap

November 2023: Venezuela 61%, China 11%, Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile) 9%, Ecuador 8%, Colombia 5%, all others <1%

Since January 2020: Venezuela 53%, Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile) 21%, Ecuador 9%, all others <3%

	Venezuela	Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile)	Ecuador	Cuba	China	Colombia	India	Afghanistan	Peru	Other Countries
20-Jan	9	1332	11	48			7			131
20-Feb	20	1535	4	45		2	9			210
20-Mar	3	972	6	16		2	7			93
20-Apr		0								0
20-May		0								0
20-Jun	2	135	1	12			5			27
20-Jul		0								0
20-Aug		0			3	1				2
20-Sep	5	84				2				17
20-Oct	5	315	2			2			1	46
20-Nov	3	313	7	1		1			1	39
20-Dec	22	645	9	123		11	11		2	148
21-Jan	3	720	3	176		8	3			158
21-Feb	9	1231	2	205		7				403
21-Mar		2193	14	198	2	1	30			256
21-Apr	3	3818	12	1306			102			624
21-May	113	2180	5	1514			44			606
21-Jun	205	6527	9	2770		4	44			708
21-Jul	248	15488	19	2354		8	34			662
21-Aug	568	21285	22	2857		8	1			591
21-Sep	437	22473	48	1566	3	31	40			907
21-Oct	339	20626	88	3018	11	29	65			1728
21-Nov	352	3595	65	1639	22	18	158			1913
21-Dec	542	936	100	997	39	55	71			1454
22-Jan	1421	807	100	367	32	48	67	1	17	1842
22-Feb	1573	627	156	334	39	72	74	3	23	1361
22-Mar	1704	658	121	361	56	59	88	40	18	1722
22-Apr	2694	785	181	634	59	72	172	31	29	1477
22-May	9844	997	527	567	67	248	179	67	88	1310
22-Jun	11359	1025	555	416	66	287	228	82	109	1506
22-Jul	17066	1245	883	574	85	407	431	162	136	1833
22-Aug	23632	1921	1581	589	119	569	332	128	247	1986
22-Sep	38399	2642	2594	490	136	1306	350	180	365	1742
22-Oct	40593	4525	8487	663	274	1600	604	551	438	2038
22-Nov	668	5520	6350	535	377	208	813	379	34	1748
22-Dec	1374	6535	7821	431	695	188	756	596	39	1862
23-Jan	2337	12063	6352	142	913	333	562	291	39	1602
23-Feb	7097	7813	5203	36	1285	637	872	276	100	1338
23-Mar	20816	8335	2772	35	1657	1260	1109	359	261	1495
23-Apr	25395	5832	2683	59	1683	1634	446	386	277	1902
23-May	26409	3633	3059	59	1497	1645	161	192	394	1913
23-Jun	18501	1743	5052	74	1722	894	65	217	209	1245
23-Jul	38033	1548	9773	123	1789	1884	96	321	376	1444
23-Aug	62700	1992	8642	172	2433	2989	27	467	653	1871
23-Sep	58716	3176	4744	166	2588	2570	43	609	667	1989
23-Oct	34594	3958	2849	97	2934	2051	36	400	535	1802
23-Nov	22547	3232	2996	85	4090	1716	113	365	327	1760

Data table

Among major nationalities, the sharpest one-month declines were from Venezuela (-35%), Peru (-39%), Vietnam (-31%), and Benin (-38%). Migration from China increased 39 percent.

Venezuelan migrants may be delaying plans until they see what happens with the Biden administration’s announced resumption of deportation flights to Caracas. Colder weather and the end-of-year holidays may be part of the reason for the across-the-board decline.

Still, the barely governed jungle region finished the year’s first 11 months with nearly half a million migrants (495,459), which has never come close to happening before. A couple of weeks later, the count now stands at more than 506,000.

Annual Migration Through Panama’s Darién Gap

2023: Venezuela 64%, Ecuador 10.9%, Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile) 10.8%, China 5%, Colombia 4%, All Others <1%

Since 2010: Venezuela 47%, Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile) 22%, Ecuador 8%, Cuba 7%, China 3% Colombia 2%, All Others <2%

	Venezuela	Haiti (Plus Brazil and Chile)	Ecuador	Cuba	China	Colombia	India	Nepal	Bangladesh	Other Countries
2010		0		79	268		12	29	53	118
2011		1	15	18	9	65	11	9	45	110
2012		0	18	1154	11	24	48	213	89	220
2013		2	4	2010	1	26		297	398	313
2014		2	1	5026		9	1	468	377	291
2015	2	8	14	24623	1	32	1	2426	559	1623
2016	6	16742	93	7383		16	20	1619	580	3601
2017	18	40	50	736	6	36	1127	2138	506	2119
2018	65	420	51	329		13	2962	868	1525	2988
2019	78	10490	31	2691		23	1920	254	911	5704
2020	69	5331	40	245	3	21	39	56	123	538
2021	2819	101072	387	18600	77	169	592	523	1657	7830
2022	150327	27287	29356	5961	2005	5064	4094	1631	1884	20675
2023 (Nov)	317145	53325	54125	1048	22591	17613	3530	2153	1743	22186

Data table

So far this year, 22 percent of Darién Gap migrants have been minors. (UNICEF has estimated that half of minors transiting the Darién are under five years old.) 52 percent have been men, 26 percent women, 12 percent boys, and 10 percent girls.

Border and Migration Infographics: Update and Upgrade

At WOLA’s Border Oversight site, I’ve updated all of our giant collection of charts and graphics about border security and migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, and along the U.S.-bound migration route.

There’s about 90 charts there. That’s hard to navigate. In order to fix that, I’ve added a table of contents to the archive.

Here, through the magic of copy-and-pasting, is that table of contents:

Visualizations of data related to U.S. border governance and migration

 

At the U.S.-Mexico Border

Yearly Apprehensions or Encounters

  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by year and by country, since 2007 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by year since 1960, and by year and by country (Mexico and non-Mexico) since 2000 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by year since 1960, and by year and by demographic category since 2012 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by year and by demographic category since 2012, showing the proportion of children and families (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol + CBP encounters with all migrants, last three full years by country, three-column presentation (View) (Data table)

Monthly Apprehensions or Encounters

  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by country, since October 2020 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol + CBP encounters with all migrants, by month and by country, since October 2020 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol + CBP encounters with single adult migrants, by month and by country, since October 2020 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol + CBP encounters with family-unit and accompanied child migrants, by month and by country, since October 2020 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol + CBP encounters with unaccompanied child migrants, by month and by country, since October 2020 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol + CBP encounters with all migrants, last three months by country, three-column presentation (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, last three months by country, three-column presentation (View) (Data table)
  • CBP port-of-entry encounters with all migrants, last three months by country, three-column presentation (View) (Data table)
  • Percentage of all migrants encountered by CBP at ports of entry, last three months by country, three-column presentation (View) (Data table for port of entry encountersall migrant encounters)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by border sector, since October 1999 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by demographic, since October 2011 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of family unit members and unaccompanied children, by month and by demographic, since October 2011 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of single adults, by month, since October 2011 (View) (Data table)

Border Sectors

  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by border sector, since October 2020 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by country, in the San Diego Sector, since October 2019 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by country, in the El Centro Sector, since October 2019 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by country, in the Yuma Sector, since October 2019 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by country, in the Tucson Sector, since October 2019 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by country, in the El Paso Sector, since October 2019 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by country, in the Big Bend Sector, since October 2019 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by country, in the Del Rio Sector, since October 2019 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by country, in the Laredo Sector, since October 2019 (View) (Data table)
  • Border Patrol apprehensions of all migrants, by month and by country, in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, since October 2019 (View) (Data table)
Read More

Annual CBP Migrant Encounters at the U.S.-Mexico Border, by Nationality

The U.S. government’s 2023 fiscal year ended on September 30. Here’s a comparison of migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, by migrants’ nationalities, over the past three fiscal years.

Data table

From 2021 to 2023,

  • The three nationalities that saw the largest aggregate increases in migration:
    • Venezuela +217,393
    • “Other Countries” not specifically named in CBP’s data releases +155,007
    • Colombia +153,334
  • The three nationalities that saw the largest percentage increases in migration:
    • China +5,303%
    • Colombia +2,472%
    • Peru +2,268%
  • The three nationalities that saw the largest aggregate decreases in migration:
    • Honduras -105,638
    • Guatemala -62,950
    • El Salvador -37,175
  • The three nationalities that saw the largest percentage decreases in migration:
    • Ukraine -64%
    • Brazil -51%
    • Romania -49%

Darién Gap Migration Dipped in October

Fresh numbers from Panama show a 35 percent drop, from September to October, in the number of people migrating through the Darién Gap. The main cause was a 41 percent decline in the number of citizens of Venezuela (blue in the chart) who traveled through the treacherous jungle region.

Monthly Migration Through Panama’s Darién Gap

October 2023: Venezuela 70%, Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile) 8%, China 6.0%, Ecuador 5.8%, Colombia 4%, all others <2%

Since January 2020: Venezuela 53%, Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile) 22%, Ecuador 10%, Cuba 3%, all others <3%

	Venezuela	Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile)	Ecuador	Cuba	Colombia	China	India	Afghanistan	Bangladesh	Other Countries
20-Jan	9	1332	11	48			7		16	115
20-Feb	20	1535	4	45	2		9		48	162
20-Mar	3	972	6	16	2		7		10	83
20-Apr		0								0
20-May		0								0
20-Jun	2	135	1	12			5		10	17
20-Jul		0								0
20-Aug		0			1	3				2
20-Sep	5	84			2					17
20-Oct	5	315	2		2					47
20-Nov	3	313	7	1	1				2	38
20-Dec	22	645	9	123	11		11		37	113
21-Jan	3	720	3	176	8		3		38	120
21-Feb	9	1231	2	205	7				90	313
21-Mar		2193	14	198	1	2	30		15	241
21-Apr	3	3818	12	1306			102		127	497
21-May	113	2180	5	1514			44		118	488
21-Jun	205	6527	9	2770	4		44		131	577
21-Jul	248	15488	19	2354	8		34		210	452
21-Aug	568	21285	22	2857	8		1		128	463
21-Sep	437	22473	48	1566	31	3	40		102	805
21-Oct	339	20626	88	3018	29	11	65		325	1403
21-Nov	352	3595	65	1639	18	22	158		222	1691
21-Dec	542	936	100	997	55	39	71		151	1303
22-Jan	1421	807	100	367	48	32	67	1	70	1789
22-Feb	1573	627	156	334	72	39	74	3	81	1303
22-Mar	1704	658	121	361	59	56	88	40	201	1539
22-Apr	2694	785	181	634	72	59	172	31	126	1380
22-May	9844	997	527	567	248	67	179	67	254	1144
22-Jun	11359	1025	555	416	287	66	228	82	210	1405
22-Jul	17066	1245	883	574	407	85	431	162	236	1733
22-Aug	23632	1921	1581	589	569	119	332	128	150	2083
22-Sep	38399	2642	2594	490	1306	136	350	180	189	1918
22-Oct	40593	4525	8487	663	1600	274	604	551	143	2333
22-Nov	668	5520	6350	535	208	377	813	379	176	1606
22-Dec	1374	6535	7821	431	188	695	756	596	48	1853
23-Jan	2337	12063	6352	142	333	913	562	291	127	1514
23-Feb	7097	7813	5203	36	637	1285	872	276	132	1306
23-Mar	20816	8335	2772	35	1260	1657	1109	359	87	1669
23-Apr	25395	5832	2683	59	1634	1683	446	386	77	2102
23-May	26409	3633	3059	59	1645	1497	161	192	148	2159
23-Jun	18501	1743	5052	74	894	1722	65	217	185	1269
23-Jul	38033	1548	9773	123	1884	1789	96	321	243	1577
23-Aug	62700	1992	8642	172	2989	2433	27	467	159	2365
23-Sep	58716	3176	4744	166	2570	2588	43	609	260	2396
23-Oct	34594	3958	2849	97	2051	2934	36	400	200	2137

Data table

2023 is still—by far—a record-breaking year for Darién Gap migration, though. 458,228 people migrated through the region during the first 10 months of the year, making it certain that the year-end total will surpass 500,000. 294,598 of this year’s migrants (64 percent, blue in the chart) have been Venezuelan.

Annual Migration Through Panama’s Darién Gap

2023: Venezuela 64%, Ecuador 11.2%, Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile) 10.9%, China 4%, Colombia 3%, All Others <1%

Since 2010: Venezuela 47%, Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile) 22%, Ecuador 8%, Cuba 7%, Colombia 2.24%, China 2.18%,  All Others <2%

	Venezuela	Haiti (plus Brazil and Chile)	Ecuador	Cuba	Colombia	China	India	Nepal	Bangladesh	Other Countries
2010		0		79		268	12	29	53	118
2011		1	15	18	65	9	11	9	45	110
2012		0	18	1154	24	11	48	213	89	220
2013		2	4	2010	26	1		297	398	313
2014		2	1	5026	9		1	468	377	291
2015	2	8	14	24623	32	1	1	2426	559	1623
2016	6	16742	93	7383	16		20	1619	580	3601
2017	18	40	50	736	36	6	1127	2138	506	2119
2018	65	420	51	329	13		2962	868	1525	2988
2019	78	10490	31	2691	23		1920	254	911	5704
2020	69	5331	40	245	21	3	39	56	123	538
2021	2819	101072	387	18600	169	77	592	523	1657	7830
2022	150327	27287	29356	5961	5064	2005	4094	1631	1884	20675
2023 (Oct)	294598	50093	51129	963	15897	18501	3417	2035	1618	19977

Data table

Data from the United States and Honduras also show sharp drops in migration from Venezuela. The cause appears to be U.S. and Venezuelan governments’ October 5 announcement that they would be renewing deportation flights to Caracas. Though these flights are proving to be relatively infrequent so far, the mere possibility of being sent all the way back to Venezuela seems to have led many Venezuelan citizens considering migration to “wait and see” and delay their plans.

Honduras is the country that reports in-transit migration in the most current manner. Looking at weekly migration through Honduras shows a possible recovery in Venezuelan migration (blue) during the first full week of November. However, a single week’s data don’t necessarily point to a trend. Here is migration of citizens of Venezuela during each week between September 1 and November 9.

“Irregular” Migrants from Venezuela and Haiti Registered in Honduras by Week, September-Early November 2023

	Venezuela	Haiti
Week of 9/1-9/7	10101	2475
Week of 9/8-9/14	8685	3120
Week of 9/15-9/21	11012	5138
Week of 9/22-9/28	9852	4302
Week of 9/29-10/5	10384	5632
Week of 10/6-10/12	8430	6936
Week of 10/13-10/19	8514	8199
Week of 10/20-10/26	7154	11356
Week of 10/27-11/2	4866	5141
Week of 11/3-11/9	8199	1242

The chart also shows citizens of Haiti (green), whose numbers rose then fell during the same period. The recent drop owes to the Haitian government, at strong U.S. suggestion, banning charter flights to Nicaragua at the end of October.

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