The tables in the graphic below show the nationalities of migrants who ended up in Border Patrol custody, after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border between ports of entry, between June and August 2023. As the tiny numbers on the right edge show, several nationalities experienced triple-digit percentage increases from June to August (that is, they more than doubled).
The tables in the next graphic show the nationalities of migrants who were able to present themselves at U.S.-Mexico border ports of entry between June and August 2023. Most of them—87 percent in June—made appointments using the “CBP One” smartphone app.
Notable here: Haiti is third in August, as 8,687 of its citizens came to ports of entry, but Haiti does not even appear on the Border Patrol graphic above because zero Haitian citizens crossed between the ports of entry in August.
With U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) releasing new data last night, we now know what migration at the U.S.-Mexico border looked like through August.
The most notable thing about these charts is the rapid increase in migrant arrivals from June to August, in the areas between ports of entry (official border crossings) where Border Patrol operates. We know that the increase is continuing in September.
June was the first full month after May 11, 2023, when the Title 42 pandemic expulsions policy ended. At that moment, many migrants and smugglers refrained from crossing between ports of entry because it wasn’t clear what would happen next, and migration plummeted to levels not seen since February 2021.
As they grew frustrated with clogged “legal pathways” like the CBP One smartphone app, and as they got better information about the likelihood of being able to pursue asylum claims within the United States despite the Biden administration’s harsh new asylum rule, more have been crossing between the official ports of entry and turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents.
This chart shows, by country, who has been ending up in Border Patrol custody after crossing between ports of entry.
This chart shows, by country, who was able to present themselves at a U.S.-Mexico border port of entry. Of the 51,913 people shown here in August, 87 percent (45,400) had made appointments using CBP One, according to CBP.
The following charts combine people at and between ports of entry (CBP plus Border Patrol). Here are migrants arriving as members of family units (parents plus children). Border Patrol encountered more migrants arriving as families in August 2023 (93,108) than in any month in history. The second-place month (84,486) was May 2019, when Donald Trump was president.
This chart, combining people at and between ports of entry, shows the countries of origin of migrants arriving as unaccompanied minors. August was the number-12 month ever for Border Patrol apprehensions of unaccompanied migrant children: 13,549 last month.
And here are single adult migrants. It was an unremarkable month for single adults (28th place for Border Patrol apprehensions, 74,402, since October 2011, which is the first month for which I have Border Patrol breakdowns by demographic group.)
Late on September 22, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released data about migration at the U.S.-Mexico border during August 2023.
August was the number-one month ever for Border Patrol apprehensions of migrants traveling as members of families. “Family Unit” apprehensions totaled 93,108 last month.
August was the number-12 month ever for Border Patrol apprehensions of unaccompanied migrant children: 13,549 last month.
Add those numbers, and Border Patrol apprehended 106,657 child and family migrants in August 2023, a record.
August was the number-28 month since October 2011 for Border Patrol apprehensions of migrants traveling as single adults: 74,402 last month. Single adult numbers have been dropping since the end of the Title 42 pandemic expulsions policy, which ironically made repeat crossings easier because of less time in custody.
During his marathon morning press conference today, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador shared Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) preliminary U.S.-Mexico Border migration statistics for the first 17 days of September. He showed this slide about 2 hours and 11 minutes into a video embedded on the Presidency’s page.
The graphic shows a total of 142,000 migrant encounters over those 17 days. It combines migrants who have entered Border Patrol custody plus those who came to official land-border ports of entry, but doesn’t distinguish between them.
In all of July, the last full month that CBP has reported, this number was 183,503.
If September’s pace continues for all 30 days, by the end of the month CBP would report 250,654 migrant encounters. Only December 2022 (252,325) has exceeded that number.
The most Venezuelan migrants in a single month was 33,804 in September 2022. September 2023, with 25,577 people in 17 days, may exceed that.
60 percent of this year’s migrants through the Darién Gap have been citizens of Venezuela: 201,288 people. In August, the migrant population was 77 percent Venezuelan: 62,700 people.
Jaw-dropping numbers from a region that was viewed as all but impenetrable until perhaps 2021. And there’s little reason why they won’t continue to increase. Any plan to “block” migrants on this route would require a staggeringly large and complex operation that would create additional challenges, like what to do with tens of thousands of stranded migrants.
In its latest annual report, the UK-based group Global Witness counted 177 murders of environmental defenders worldwide last year. And 156 of them happened in Latin America.
Colombia tops the global ranking with 60 murders in yet another dire year for the country. This is almost double the number of killings compared to 2021, when 33 defenders lost their lives. Once again, Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant communities, small-scale farmers and environmental activists have been viciously targeted.
In 2022, voters in Brazil and Colombia elected leaders who lean hard into pro-environment rhetoric. That may not mean daily life is any safer for those countries’ beleaguered communities trying to defend forests and other resources. Next year’s numbers, though, absolutely must go down. This is inexcusable.
This is from a September 5 update from the Regional Inter-agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V). Some changes owe to governments (like Panama’s) recalculating their population estimates, rather than actual movement of Venezuelan migrants.
Eight countries (not including the United States) now have at least 100,000 Venezuelan-born people living within their borders:
According to the Colombian daily El Espectador, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime detected 230,000 hectares of coca in Colombia in 2022. That amount—which extends the dark blue line in the chart below to 2022—would be the most coca that the UN agency has detected in any year since it began issuing estimates in 1999.
Colombia was governed for just over the first seven months of 2022 by Iván Duque, and for the remaining less than five months by Gustavo Petro.
Petro was still putting together his government by the time 2022 ended. His drug policy team only published their counter-drug strategy this past weekend. While that is a notably slow pace, it was not the cause for 2022’s result.
Petro has sought to de-emphasize forced eradication of small-scale coca farmers’ crops, which places the government in an adversarial relationship with poor people in historically abandoned territories. Through July, forced eradication is down 79 percent over the same period in 2022. Instead, the new strategy document promotes interdiction, targeting cocaine production and related finances, and other strategies.
Still, critics of the Petro government’s choices will use the 230,000 figure to oppose them. It’s possible, though, that the 2023 coca acreage figure could be reduced, because a historic drop in prices may be making the crop less attractive to many growers.
“This summer’s record-melting heat has pushed migrant deaths to a 25-year record with more than 130 victims and counting in the Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector, which covers the westernmost tip of Texas and all of New Mexico,” reads a September 10 El Paso Timesreport on the discovery of the remains of 2 migrant women in Sunland Park, New Mexico. (Sunland Park is the first town you hit when you go west out of El Paso.)
On August 30, the El Paso Times’s Lauren Villagrán reported that, amid record summer heat, “U.S. Border Patrol reports at least 136 migrants have died in El Paso Sector” in fiscal year 2023, up from 71 in 2022.
The number of migrants who’ve died in El Paso and New Mexico since October 2022 is surely greater than 136, as many remains are never found. The chart above shows what 136 looks like in this sector, though.
The death toll has undergone a vertiginous increase in the past three years as people with no other apparent legal pathway attempt to defy the heat and enter the United States through the Chihuahuan Desert, often having to cross fast-flowing irrigation canals along the way.
Across the entire U.S.-Mexico border, Border Patrol hasn’t reported a migrant deaths total for 2022 yet, though the Biden administration’s draft asylum rule—shared in March—reported that “in FY 2022, more than 890 migrants died attempting to enter the United States between ports of entry across the SWB [southwest border].” That was up sharply from 565 in 2021 and 254 in 2020.
The Mexican government’s refugee agency, COMAR, just posted data through August about the number of migrants from other countries who have applied for asylum in Mexico. Eight months into the year, COMAR is nearly at 100,000 applications, on pace to reach, or be just below, 150,000 by the end of the year. Mexico appears certain to break 2021’s record of 129,768 asylum applications.
Most applicants are from Haiti, Honduras, and Cuba. As Gretchen Kuhner of Mexico’s non-governmental Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI) pointed out in last week’s WOLA Podcast, a lot of migrants stranded in Mexico are being channeled into the asylum system by a lack of other options for having a legal status in the country.
As you can tell from the last few posts here, I’ve been updating my collection of border and migration infographics (a fancy word for “charts”). I’m done now.
Those all live in a section at WOLA’s Border Oversight website. There, they’re organized by category and by when they were last updated. For nearly all of them, I’ve now added a link to a Google spreadsheet with the underlying data.
I haven’t updated this one in a while. Here is a chart of migrants apprehended per Border Patrol agent per year between 1992 and 2022. The data table is here.
With 133 migrants per agent, 2022 saw the largest number since the year 2000. Unlike 2000, though, 35 migrants per agent were unaccompanied children or family unit members, nearly all of whom were trying to be apprehended—no pursuit needed—in order to seek asylum.
The same describes many of the 95 single adults, and of those seeking to avoid capture, many were double-counted because the Title 42 pandemic expulsions policy facilitated repeat attempts to cross. In 2000, nearly all migrants were single adult Mexican citizens who did not request asylum.
Honduras registers most migrants who pass through its territory en route to the United States. Since August 2022 it has waived fees required to register (and thus be able to board a bus), so the country’s data does capture most in-transit migrants.
These are mostly people who passed through the Darién Gap or began their journey on the American mainland in Nicaragua, which has relatively loose visa requirements.
Honduras also shares its migrant registry data almost in real time. And looking at that data right now yields a startling result.
This number averaged 23,660 per month between August 2022 and June 2023. It jumped to 48,971 in July, and to 63,615 in August. More than half are Venezuelan.
We’re seeing similar increases in migrant encounters in Panama and Mexico, and now at the U.S.-Mexico border. Migration at the border is probably, once again, going to be a big issue in the U.S. political debate this fall, as the 2024 elections approach. And that’s bad, because the pre-electoral debate is very unlikely to capture the complexities of migration management and processing—a very complex set of challenges.