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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More Asylum Appointments, Please

Figure 1: Number of CBP One Appointments per City (February 2024)

Tijuana CBP One: 385
Mexicali CBP One: 75
Nogales CBP One: 100
Ciudad Juárez CBP One: 200
Piedras Negras CBP One: 60
Nuevo Laredo CBP One: 55
Reynosa CBP One: 195
Matamoros CBP One: 380

The latest quarterly “Asylum Processing at the U.S.-Mexico Border” report is out, from Stephanie Leutert and Caitlyn Yates at the University of Texas Strauss Center. It is the resource to find out about U.S. asylum availability for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border’s ports of entry, the length of waitlists, shelters, and security threats.

As it has done since June, after TItle 42 ended, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offers 1,450 daily appointments at the ports of entry for migrants who wish to turn themselves in to U.S. authorities. The process involves making an appointment using the CBP One smartphone app.

Three points, just from this map:

  1. 1,450 sounds like a lot of daily appointments. Still, it is less than a third—in some months, less than a quarter—of the number who give up on this app-driven process (or don’t even know about it), and instead cross the Rio Grande or seek a break in the border wall, then wait for Border Patrol to apprehend them. For those who resist doing that and stick with the app, wait times in northern Mexico now routinely run a few months.
  2. CBP grants 43 percent of these appointments in Mexico’s Tamaulipas state, the only border state that has a State Department Level 4 travel warning because of organized crime violence. Criminal groups in Tamaulipas specialize in kidnapping migrants, while corrupt Mexican agents and officials collude—and everyone, surely including CBP, knows it.
  3. Also, recall that Border Patrol’s Tucson, Arizona sector is the agency’s busiest right now, with hundreds of asylum seekers at a time turning themselves in to agents in the desert. You’d think Border Patrol agents would be the first ones pushing CBP to increase Nogales, Arizona CBP One appointments beyond a measly 100. Those 100—7 percent of the total—are the only ones available in the roughly 600 miles between Calexico, California and El Paso, Texas.

Deterring Asylum Seekers: an Increasingly Bipartisan Idea that Won’t Work

I felt a need to write something, without feeling constrained by word count, responding to today’s bipartisan wave of calls to “get tough” on asylum seekers coming to the U.S.-Mexico border. So buckle in.

tl;dr: This piece doesn’t make a human rights argument about asylum access, though it does acknowledge cruelty and human cost. Instead, the argument here is cold, analytical, and practical: the past 10 years’ numbers and experience show that trying to deter protection-seeking migrants just doesn’t work. All it does is push their numbers down temporarily.

I wrote this in a hurry and would like it to coincide with Joe Biden’s and Donald Trump’s February 29 visits to the border, so this document is by me, not my employer. (If I gave my WOLA colleagues a few days’ advance notice to look it over, this would be a much better, tighter document with fewer unfortunate word choices. But it’s a busy week at WOLA.)


As President Biden and candidate Trump head to the Texas-Mexico border, immigration opponents are blaming the President’s border policies for the horrific, tragic February 22 murder of a nursing student in Georgia. But the case of the alleged killer, a 26-year-old Venezuelan man named José Ibarra, shows the futility of trying to put asylum out of reach at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Title 42 was a “nuclear option” for denying asylum—yet it didn’t deter people from coming

Since 1980, U.S. law has clearly stated that any non-citizens on U.S. soil have the right to apply for asylum, regardless of how they arrived, if they fear for their lives or freedom upon return to their country for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Once here, they are entitled to due process, and even Donald Trump’s administration had to honor that, hundreds of thousands of times (though they constantly sought to cut corners).

That is presumably what José Ibarra sought to do when he arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso in September 2022. But in fact, Ibarra came to the U.S.-Mexico border at a time when the U.S. government was going to extreme lengths to make asylum unavailable.

Between March 2020 and May 2023, the “Title 42” pandemic policy—begun by Donald Trump and continued by Joe Biden—used public health as a pretext for carrying out the toughest restriction on asylum seekers since 1980. Title 42 empowered U.S. border officials to expel—not even to properly process—all undocumented migrants they encountered.

If they said “I fear for my life if you expel me,” in most cases migrants still didn’t get hearings: they were expelled from the United States as quickly as possible. If they were Salvadoran, Guatemalan, or Honduran—and later Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, or Venezuelan—Mexico agreed to take many of them back across the land border.

In September 2022, when Ibarra turned himself in to Border Patrol, Title 42 was in full effect. But “expelled as quickly as possible” was often complicated.

In September 2022 alone, 33,804 Venezuelans—fleeing authoritarianism, corrupt misrule, violence, social collapse, and cratering living standards—arrived at the border.

Data table

That month was an especially busy time for Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector (one of the agency’s nine U.S.-Mexico border sectors, comprised of far west Texas and New Mexico). Agents there encountered 49,030 migrants over those 30 days, 20,169 of them from Venezuela, including José Ibarra.

(Let’s recall, too, that the vast majority of those people were seeking to step on U.S. soil and turn themselves in to Border Patrol. They weren’t trying to get away. The presence of a border wall near the riverbank is irrelevant: they just want to set foot on the riverbank.)

Of those 20,169 Venezuelan migrants in El Paso that month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) used Title 42 to expel… 2.

Why so few? Because U.S. authorities had nowhere to “put” expelled citizens of Venezuela and many other countries. At the time, Mexico was accepting Title 42 expulsions of three non-Mexican nationalities, but not Venezuelans. (That came later, in October 2023, bringing a temporary drop in Venezuelan migration. But despite the threat of expulsion, by the last full month of Title 42—April 2023—the number of Venezuelan migrants had recovered to 34,633, at the time a record.)

In 2022—and again, now—Venezuela’s government, which has no diplomatic relations with the United States, was refusing deportations or expulsions by air. Those flights are very expensive anyway for a country thousands of miles away.

At that pandemic moment, but still today, the sheer number of arrivals at the border—often more than 200,000 per month, at a moment of more worldwide migration than at any time since World War II—often makes detaining asylum seekers impossible, for lack of space and budget. So then, and still now, U.S. authorities release many into the U.S. interior with a date to appear before ICE or immigration courts in their destination cities. (The vast majority show up for those appointments.)

This was the reality even during the draconian Title 42 period, when U.S. authorities did expel people—many of them asylum seekers—2,912,294 times. But even as Mexico took back land-border expulsions of many Mexican and Central American people with urgent protection needs, U.S. officials, unable to expel, released José Ibarra and many others into the United States.

Why cracking down on asylum doesn’t work

Let’s repeat: this is what was happening when it was U.S. government policy to expel as many asylum seekers as it could, as quickly as it could. Washington tried a massive crackdown on asylum, and it failed to deter people. This is what happened to Border Patrol’s migrant encounters during the Title 42 period:

Data table

Right now, though, curbing the ability to ask for asylum at the border is in vogue again. Language in a “border deal” negotiated by Senate Republicans and Democrats—defeated in early February because Republicans didn’t think it went far enough—would have switched on a Title 42-like expulsion authority whenever daily migrant encounters averaged more than 4,000 or 5,000 per day.

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Colombia’s Peace Process: Some Links from the Past Month

Colombia’s government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group completed a sixth round of peace talks in Cuba on February 6. They agreed to renew a six-month-old ceasefire for another six months, through August 4.

The ceasefire is to include a halt in guerrilla kidnappings. As of February 7, according to lead government negotiator Vera Grabe, the ELN had released 23 of 26 people it had been holding. On February 18 the group released a dentist whom it had kidnapped in Magdalena.

Negotiators also agreed to create an international multi-color fund to support peace activities. The next round of talks is to take place in Venezuela.

Despite the ceasefire, ELN units in the southern region of the northwestern department of Chocó declared an “armed strike,” prohibiting people from transiting on roads and rivers for about a week in mid-February. It was the ELN’s third armed strike in this area in seven months. The ELN and the Gulf Clan have been fighting in southern Chocó for years, and the humanitarian crisis—especially forced displacements and confinements—is worsening for communities along the San Juan and Baudó rivers, which are busy smuggling corridors.

The ceasefire, which is limited to stopping fighting between the ELN and the government, is “incomplete” and does not specifically prohibit confinements of populations, said negotiating team member Sen. Iván Cepeda.

ELN negotiators announced on February 20 that they are putting the dialogues on hold. They were reportedly unhappy with the government’s approval of separate dialogues between a single ELN structure and the government of the southwestern department of Nariño (which shares a party affiliation with President Gustavo Petro). The ELN is contesting territory in Nariño with the Central General Staff (EMC) ex-FARC dissident network.

The ELN’s Comuneros del Sur front appears to be more disposed to a faster-paced dialogue; conversations began informally in September 2023. While the Petro government supports the idea of “regional dialogues,” ELN’s national leadership prefers that it negotiate with the group as a whole.

The government has a strong incentive to seek talks with individual ELN units, as the guerrilla group has a loose central command structure with very autonomous units. “The Eastern and Western War fronts, due to their operability and lethality, represent more or less 70 percent of the ELN and these structures are not at the table,” Carlos Velandia, a former ELN leader who is now a frequently cited analyst, told El Tiempo.

The EMC staged a 27-day “armed strike” in parts of southern Caquetá department.

Following recent ELN and EMC armed actions against civilians in Antioquia, Cauca, Chocó, Nariño, Valle del Cauca, and elsewhere, High Commissioner for Peace Otty Patiño warned that “The ceasefire is not a permit to commit crimes.” Analysts viewed this as a hardening of the Petro government’s tone toward armed groups participating in negotiations, and a break with the approach of former High Commissioner Danilo Rueda.

Peace talks officially launched between the government and the Segunda Marquetalia ex-FARC dissident network. Nominally headed by Iván Márquez, the FARC’s chief negotiator for the 2016 peace accord who rearmed in 2019, the Segunda Marquetalia is mainly active in Putumayo and Nariño departments in southwest Colombia.

This is the only negotiation with a group led by people who had already agreed to an earlier peace accord. Along with the ELN and EMC, the Petro government is now in active peace talks with three national groups.

Representatives of the 15 UN Security Council member states visited Colombia on February 7-11. The Council is considering expanding the scope of the UN Verification Mission’s mandate to include the Petro government’s new peace negotiations with additional armed groups; the U.S. government has been reluctant to approve a quick mandate expansion. In a press conference with Council members, President Petro acknowledged that aspects of the 2016 peace accord’s implementation, like land distribution, are running behind.

During their visit, UN diplomats traveled to Buenaventura and Cartagena, and to the former FARC demobilization and reincorporation site in La Montañita, Caquetá, which is now a fair-sized rural town.

Twenty-four of these reincorporation sites, in thirteen departments, continue to exist. As of October 31, the government recognized 11,269 people as ex-FARC, down from 13,394 in 2020, according to El Espectador.

Colombia’s Human Rights Ombudsman’s office noted that the Petro government has increased budgets and resources for implementing the 2016 peace accord, especially its provisions on land and rural reform. In a new monitoring report, though, the Office voiced strong concern about how these resources are being allocated, and about armed groups’ continuing power to undermine people’s access to land, especially when landholders are women.

Of the Territorially Focused Development Programs (PDET), a big peace accord commitment to bring state services to long-abandoned areas, less than 50 percent have even been launched, 7 years after accord implementation began.

Former FARC leaders sent an angry letter to President Petro complaining that the post-conflict transitional justice tribunal currently trying their war crimes cases is “moving away from the spirit and letter of the peace accord.” They are upset that the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), in their view, is resolving cases separately instead of all together, moving slow on amnesties for political crimes, and focusing too much on mid-level ex-commanders. The JEP appeared to resolve the amnesty issue on February 21.

68 bills before Colombia’s Congress whose passage is necessary to comply with 2016 peace accord commitments are in danger of failing because they must be approved in the legislative session that ends on June 20, according to the Bogotá-based Ideas for Peace Foundation (FIP).

A FIP report found that Colombia’s armed groups increased their strength and reach in 2023, even as some negotiated with the government and some humanitarian indicators improved. “Disputes between the groups for territorial control increased 54% in 2023. Total armed actions by the groups also increased 11%. Disputed zones between groups increased from five to nine,” said FIP Director María Victoria Llorente.

FIP cited data from Colombia’s security forces pointing to an increase in the combined membership of the ELN, ex-FARC dissidents, and the Gulf Clan in 2023: from about 15,000 to about 16,700.

Arms Transfers in the Americas: Some Links from the Past Month

Ecuador has been in a diplomatic dispute with Russia over a reported deal to send used Russian-made military equipment to the United States, in exchange for a U.S. government transfer of U.S. equipment worth $200 million. U.S. State Department official Kevin Sullivan told an Ecuadorian television interviewer that the used Russian equipment was to be transferred to Ukraine. The government of President Daniel Noboa may be backing down from the deal after Russia suspended five Ecuadorian banana exporting companies.

Beyond the possible Russian equipment exchange, U.S. aid to Ecuador announced in the past month includes:

  • construction of a new Ecuadorian Coast Guard Academy,
  • renovation of a canine veterinary clinic,
  • a renovated office for the corruption prosecution unit,
  • eight mobile border units to support an elite border task force
  • a joint National Police-Coast Guard operational unit in Guayaquil
  • digital forensics support to identify, map, and target criminal networks
  • a team to train 175 Ecuador migration officers on the use of biometrics collection
  • training of 35 members from the Ecuadorian Presidential and Vice-Presidential protective details
  • an increase in FBI advisors in-country
  • a C-130H military plane to be delivered by the end of March
  • more than 20,000 bullet proof vests
  • more than $1 million worth of critical security and emergency response equipment
  • $13 million in equipment to protect the Ecuadorian Ministry of Defense computer networks
  • $2.4 million in additional vehicles and security equipment for Ecuador’s police
  • 6 Navistar Defense 7000-MV trucks

Peru is completing an approximately US$50 million overhaul of eight Russian-built helicopters used by its army and air force and first acquired in the 1990s.

Peru‘s $27 million purchase of 10,000 Israeli Arad 7 rifles has come under scrutiny from the government’s comptroller because “a guarantee of only two years has been given, when the technical requirements demand 12 years,” La República reported.

In the waning days of Alejandro Giammattei’s administration in Guatemala, on December 12, 2023, the country’s air force received a Bell 429 GlobalRanger helicopter purchased from the U.S. government. Guatemala and the United States are discussing the purchase of two Bell 407 helicopters.

The U.S. government is donating 14 Osprea Mamba MK7 vehicles to Uruguay, which is also purchasing some additional vehicles. The announcement follows a visit to the country from U.S. Southern Command Commander Gen. Laura Richardson.

U.S. officials said that transfers to Guyana, which faces a territorial claim from Venezuela, will include aircraft, helicopters, a fleet of drones, and radar technology.

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

Rocío San Miguel, now a political prisoner, discusses politicization of Venezuela’s military in 2010

I don’t get to work on Venezuela very often, but I did get to record a conversation in 2010 with activist and civil-military relations expert Rocío San Miguel. Here’s an excerpt where we discussed the military’s politicization.

Rocío was arrested last Friday in Caracas. Authorities are accusing her of terrorism and treason, which is as horrifying as it is absurd.

Civil-Military Relations in the Americas: Some Links from the Past Month

As part of Ecuador’s crackdown on organized crime, the armed forces have intervened in 17 prisons, with troops still present in 10 of them.

Troops are also stationed along highways, at airports, and at 10 Pacific seaports.

In coming months, Ecuadorians will vote on this referendum question: “Do you agree with allowing the complementary support of the Armed Forces in the functions of the National Police to combat organized crime, partially reforming the Constitution?”

After his tumultuous January 14 swearing-in, Guatemala’s reformist president, Bernardo Arévalo, swore in a new high command and paid respectful visits to the country’s Army and Navy. Arévalo, who as an academic had published at least seven books about security and Guatemala’s army, said that the Army will continue in its role of supporting civilian security forces against organized crime.

The Arévalo government promoted four female army officers to command positions in non-combat units.

In Argentina, new president Javier Milei followed the December firing of 22 Army generals with the forced retirement of 16 Navy admirals—more than half of all officers of that rank.

Milei’s budget cuts include nonpayment of installments of a previously promised raise for military officers. Under current pay scales, Pagina12 reported, an army general earns about US$350 per month less than a police commissioner.

Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said that the Milei government is working on a plan to deepen the armed forces’ support for police in border security and fighting organized crime. Since its transition to democracy, Argentina has been reluctant to give the military new internal civilian security roles.

Mexico’s Supreme Court had ruled last year that, contrary to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s wishes, the country’s new National Guard must not remain under the command of its defense ministry (SEDENA). López Obrador called two of the justices “traitors.”

As of January 1, the Guard was to come under the security ministry (SSPC). A January 6, 2024 document circulated to guardsmen challenged the Court, stating that while the National Guard is under the SSPC’s “operational” command, it remains under SEDENA’s “administrative” command.

On February 5 President López Obrador submitted a series of proposed legal reforms, among them a constitutional amendment that would place the National Guard under SEDENA’s control.

A military court has now released from pre-trial detention 13 of 16 Mexican Army soldiers who allegedly carried out an extrajudicial execution of five civilians in May 2023 in Nuevo Laredo. The incident was caught on video.

Eight of thirteen Mexican military personnel allegedly linked to the 2014 forced disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero will be released, as a federal judge lifted their pre-trial detention.

A hard-hitting report from the Guerrero-based NGO Tlachinollan documents how President López Obrador has sought to exonerate the military of the disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa teacher’s college students, adopting and promoting the armed forces’ version of events.

Armed with sticks, stones, and machetes, residents of rural Chicomuselo, Chiapas, blocked Mexico’s military from entering their communities, demanding that the armed forces first evict organized crime from nearby areas that they already occupy. Communities in the region have been forcibly displacing to escape violent competition between Jalisco and Sinaloa cartel fighters.

In late January, the Venezuelan NGO Control Ciudadano called on the government to modify a 9-year-old decree authorizing the military to use deadly force to control demonstrations. The organization also called for due process after the late-January demotion and expulsion of 33 military personnel on allegations of “conspiracy.”

On February 9, authorities detained the organization’s director, Rocío San Miguel, in the Caracas airport. As of this writing, her whereabouts are unknown.

A judge in Colombia ruled that retired Army Col. Jorge Armando Pérez Amézquita is guilty of ordering the murder of a demobilized FARC guerrilla, Dímar Pérez, in the Catatumbo region, in a high-profile 2019 case.

Colombia’s Marines swore in their first 60 female members following three months of training.

The former commander of Chile’s armed forces, Gen. Ricardo Martínez, voiced gratitude to ex-president Sebastián Piñera for having listened to his advice and abstained from sending the military into the streets to confront protesters in 2019. “I will always be grateful to him for not having taken the Armed Forces out of it, because we were not in favor of it.” Piñera died in a helicopter crash on February 6.

Along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, federal Border Patrol agents have had their access to part of the border blocked by National Guardsmen—trained soldiers whose patches say “U.S. Army” on them, but currently at the command of Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Some are calling on President Joe Biden to “federalize” the Texas National Guard, taking them out of Abbott’s command. In an analysis, Joseph Nunn of the Brennan Center for Justice acknowledged that doing so “would certainly pass legal muster” but should be an absolute last resort.

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.

Pour One Out for the Senate Border Compromise

Republican senators refused to consider a big Ukraine-Israel-border funding bill unless it included language changing U.S. law to make it harder for migrants to access asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. A group of senators negotiated for two and a half months, coming up with a set of measures three days ago that outraged both migrants’ rights defenders who feared people would be harmed, and far-right Republicans who wanted it to go further.

The bill with the compromise language just failed on the Senate floor, by a vote of 49-50. (It was a procedural vote that needed 60 votes to allow debate to begin.)

Republicans demanded that the border-migration language be included, but in the end only four voted for it (Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, and the Republicans’ chief negotiator, James Lankford of Oklahoma). Even Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who had vocally backed Lankford’s negotiating effort, voted “no.”

Five Democrats voted “no.” (Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) had to change his vote to “no” for procedural reasons allowing a reconsideration of the bill.) They were Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Alex Padilla of California, and Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont, who opposed the unconditional Israel aid in the bill.

I hope that the senators move soon to approve aid to Ukraine, this time without weakening the right to asylum.

See also:

First Look at the Senate Negotiators’ Asylum-Limits-For-Ukraine-Aid Bill Language

The Senate’s leadership has just dropped the text of a $118 billion supplemental appropriation, complying with a Biden administration request, which would provide additional aid to Ukraine and Israel, among other priorities including $20 billion for border and migration needs.

Republican senators’ price for allowing this bill to go forward in the Senate—where Democrats have a majority but most legislation requires 60 votes to end debate and proceed to a vote—was new restrictions on migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

This 370-page legislative text has been out for less than 2 hours as I write this, so my reading this Sunday evening has not been thorough. But it appears to include a lot of the controversial limits on access to asylum that had already been reported in media. (I summarized those last week in a Q&A document and in our weekly Border Update.)

Provisions include:

  • Requiring asylum seekers placed in “expedited removal”—usually 20-25,000 per month right now, but likely to expand—to meet a much higher standard of “credible fear” in screening interviews with asylum officers. The goal is to thin out asylum applications and make it unnecessary for as many cases as possible to go to immigration court.
  • Reducing the time for a large number of asylum seekers’ cases from years to a few months, often while in tightly controlled, costly alternatives-to-detention programs.
  • It does not appear to tighten the presidential use of humanitarian parole authority to permit some classes of migrants to enter the United States, though it adds a detailed reporting requirement.

Plus, the big one:

  • As expected, the bill would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to impose a Title 42-like expulsion authority, “summarily removing” asylum-seekers from the United States (except for hard-to-prove Convention Against Torture appeals), when unauthorized migrant encounters reach a daily threshold.
  • That threshold is:
    • An average of 4,000 migrant encounters per day over 7 days, which would allow DHS to start expelling people at the Secretary’s discretion.
    • Expulsions become mandatory once the average hits 5,000 per day, or if encounters hit 8,500 in a single day.
    • “Encounters” means people who come to the border and end up in Customs and Border Protection (CBP, which includes Border Patrol) custody without documents or authorization. Even if all 5,000 of them are deported or detained, the expulsions authority would still kick in.
    • “Encounters” includes people who come to ports of entry with appointments made using the CBP One smartphone app; the bill requires DHS to maintain the capacity to keep receiving at least 1,400 of these people each day (nearly the current number of daily CBP One appointments), even when it is expelling people.
      • While these 1,400 would not be in danger of expulsion, they do count toward the daily “encounter” threshold. If CBP takes 1,400 per day at ports of entry, then the expulsions could kick in if Border Patrol apprehends 2,600 or 3,600 more per day between ports of entry (for the 4,000 and 5,000 thresholds).
      • Border Patrol apprehensions between ports of entry have averaged less than 3,600 per day during only 2 of the Biden administration’s first 36 full months. They have never averaged less than 2,600 per day.

  • It is not clear whether Mexico would agree to take back expelled migrants, and if so from which countries.
  • The expulsions would stop if the past week’s daily average dropped to 75 percent of the amount that triggered it (3,000 per day if the 4,000-encounter threshold was used; 3,750 per day if the 5,000-encounter threshold kicked in).
  • A previously undisclosed element of the new Title 42-style authority: it would automatically “sunset,” or repeal, after three years. And DHS would have fewer days per year to employ it during each of those three years. (It would take an act of Congress to renew the authority or make it permanent—which is certainly not impossible.)

What do I make of this?

  • Just as we pointed out in our Q&A last week, if this became law it would send thousands of people back to likely danger. The expulsion authority will ensnare many people with legitimate and urgent asylum claims, denying them due process. It will place many at the mercy of organized crime along the migration route and in Mexican border cities. And it wouldn’t even be justified with a thin “public health” reasoning, like Title 42 was: asylum seekers would be kicked out just because too many other people were fleeing. “The United States cannot deny someone the right to seek safety and protection just because they are number 5,001 in line that day,” a statement tonight from Human Rights First put it.
  • And again, as the Q&A and another post from last week made clear, it won’t reduce migration, except perhaps for an initial few months. We seem to forget that the Title 42 era (March 2020-May 2023) was one of the busiest times ever for migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. The experience of Title 42 should have made clear for everyone the futility of deterring protection-seeking migrants.

Either way, though, this legislation is probably not going to pass. Though I’m complaining here about some of these provisions’ cruelty, I don’t see enough red meat here to satisfy far-right and rabidly pro-Trump Republicans, especially in the GOP-majority House of Representatives. Even those who were willing to live without a full return to Trump’s policies were demanding a lower threshold number for expulsions, and curbs on the presidential humanitarian parole authority. Since they didn’t get those, they may obstruct the bill.

So the negotiators of this text added language that may endanger people. They took great pains, though, to minimize the harm it might do to asylum seekers. It is good that they tried to do so—but it means that it will be rough going in the MAGA-heavy, election-year House of Representatives.

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.

Organized Crime-Tied Corruption in the Americas: Some Links from the Past Month

A key detonating factor in Ecuador‘s January outbreak of violence was “Operation Metastasis,” a December 2023 campaign by the national prosecutor’s office targeting government and judicial officials tied to the country’s organized crime groups. Among 30 people charged, the New York Times reported, “were judges accused of granting gang leaders favorable rulings, police officials who were said to have altered evidence and delivered weapons to prisons, and the former director of the prison authority himself.”

This corruption worsened after a 2018 shakeup and reduction of the central government’s security administration, forced by economic austerity measures, that reduced some agencies and eliminated others.

“The state and law enforcement entities cannot control the situation of criminality and violence,” Felipe Botero of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime told Vox, because “they are involved with organized crime in the country.”

Recent attacks on members of Tijuana‘s municipal police, following an alleged November theft of drugs from a Sinaloa Cartel structure, “arise from the need of drug traffickers to buy police officers in order to remain in power” and this is because “the judiciary is rotten,” said Jesús Alejandro Ruiz Uribe, the Mexican federal government’s delegate for the state of Baja California. “The judicial power is currently a revolving door, the good police put the criminals in jail and the bad judges take them out again.”

To the east of Tijuana, surveillance videos taken on January 12 showed Mexican soldiers allegedly assisting a theft of synthetic drugs from a Sinaloa Cartel-run laboratory on a ranch in Tecate, Baja California, not far from the U.S. border.

SinEmbargo columnist Adela Navarro Bello wrote about this case, concluding, “Although these cases are isolated, they are increasingly frequent. Elements of the Mexican Army, the Armed Forces, and the National Guard collaborate with organized crime and drug trafficking cells in different parts of the country.”

In south-central Chiapas, near Mexico’s border with Guatemala, rural communities are forcibly displacing after confronting Mexican Army soldiers who they say were working with the Jalisco Cartel. Violence has flared up in parts of Chiapas in the past year as Jalisco and Sinaloa have entered into a bitter fight over trafficking routes, aggressively pushing out rural residents.

Hugo Aguilar, the governor of Santander, Colombia‘s fifth-most-populous department, from 2004 to 2007, admitted that he received support from the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary group during his election campaign. Aguilar, a former police colonel who commanded the unit that killed Pablo Escobar in 1993, told the post-conflict transitional justice system (the Special Jurisdiction for Peace or JEP) that he did not receive money from the AUC. “They told the people that they should vote for Colonel Aguilar” in the zones they controlled, he said.

Colombia‘s Supreme Court has opened an investigation of the president of Colombia’s Senate, Green Party Senator Iván Name Vásquez. A former head of Los Rastrojos Costeños, a splinter group of Colombia’s North Valle Cartel active in the 1990s and early 2000s, alleged that Sen. Name was linked to his group.

“Alliances between criminal networks and individuals who hold positions within state institutions have even created hybrid economies, such as scrap metal trafficking or fuel smuggling, where legal and illegal business intersect,” reported InsightCrime’s Venezuela Investigative Unit. “With corrupt state elements continuing to profit from informal mining,” the security forces’ raids on illicit precious-metals mines “may work to guarantee those elements a more favorable share of those profits, rather than stamping out the practice.”

“Organized crime can’t grow without state protection, and Latin American mafias have long made it a mission to capture parts of the state,” wrote the Council on Foreign Relations’ Will Freeman at the Los Angeles Times. “They have had at least as much success amassing political power as any of the region’s political parties.”

Charts: Migration at the U.S.-Mexico Border through December 2023

Late on Friday the 26th, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) updated its dataset of migration at the U.S.-Mexico border through December. Here are some highlights, expressed as nine charts.

Migrants apprehended by Border Patrol (in border areas between ports of entry)

Between ports of entry, CBP’s Border Patrol component apprehended 249,785 people last month. That is probably a monthly record. It is at least the largest amount measured since October 1999, the earliest month for which Border Patrol makes monthly data available.

Monthly U.S.-Mexico Border Patrol Apprehensions by Sector

	Tucson Sector	Rio Grande Valley Sector	San Diego Sector	El Paso Sector	Del Rio Sector	Yuma Sector	Laredo Sector	El Centro Sector	Big Bend Sector
Oct-99	32384	8416	9046	6386	8161	5403	6962	13761	891
Nov-99	25767	7371	7620	5203	6812	5219	6058	11035	1111
Dec-99	30182	5808	5978	4651	5118	4964	4477	8882	1192
Jan-00	70632	15443	15363	14914	20354	12462	13794	21924	1093
Feb-00	73506	16814	20204	15049	24706	13557	14745	31072	1675
Mar-00	76245	17995	18279	16018	24416	16663	15549	33301	1597
Apr-00	65213	15005	16751	12883	18145	13073	11174	26534	1272
May-00	62555	12390	16615	10645	13443	12327	9707	27460	1154
Jun-00	44341	7764	13186	7637	7820	6953	6436	20071	885
Jul-00	46849	9842	10630	7533	9373	6228	6760	15820	921
Aug-00	47905	9073	9356	8106	10132	6753	6971	15018	998
Sep-00	40767	7322	8653	6671	8698	5145	6340	13248	900
Oct-00	30009	6634	8002	6095	7648	4534	5154	13712	844
Nov-00	25889	5975	5556	5401	5344	5039	3652	9979	874
Dec-00	20907	4280	5270	4683	3756	4348	2762	8299	776
1-Jan	43972	10102	11558	10862	11218	9632	8228	18672	846
1-Feb	54913	12298	12085	12369	16447	11003	10656	21412	1046
1-Mar	64779	12890	13510	15311	16833	11411	12604	21815	1427
1-Apr	52949	11366	12597	12738	11444	9843	9928	20699	1249
1-May	44573	11204	11270	11343	9005	7990	9216	17203	1123
1-Jun	33602	8152	8467	8035	7048	4798	6586	11385	1058
1-Jul	29550	9191	7580	8607	6069	3848	6475	11175	1107
1-Aug	28028	9426	8297	9945	6038	3705	7338	10965	906
1-Sep	20504	6326	5883	7468	4025	2234	4469	7536	831
1-Oct	11124	4784	4530	4441	2938	1582	3431	4069	913
1-Nov	10523	3744	3178	3483	2367	2134	2949	3318	810
1-Dec	9208	3843	3183	3784	2104	2175	2608	3720	876
2-Jan	25182	8035	7716	8185	8384	4084	7711	9670	826
2-Feb	32264	8438	9172	9393	10087	3584	10628	11118	1040
2-Mar	46094	10153	12832	11309	12068	5409	12270	15673	1184
2-Apr	47712	10310	11712	11783	8540	5569	10709	14274	1312
2-May	36333	9473	11222	9972	5404	4581	7861	11415	1163
2-Jun	30898	8109	9251	6931	3787	3562	6545	8870	702
2-Jul	30212	7523	9340	8044	3301	3766	5830	7897	748
2-Aug	30078	8762	10115	9018	4297	3414	6376	9557	940
2-Sep	24020	6753	8430	7811	3708	2794	5177	8692	878
2-Oct	21352	6024	7339	6545	3037	3698	4644	8399	754
2-Nov	17206	4218	5379	5303	1942	2697	4157	6107	722
2-Dec	11481	3814	4280	4008	2083	2723	3991	4572	872
3-Jan	26826	7630	10177	9255	6546	5816	7444	12369	862
3-Feb	33854	7905	10958	10000	7127	5155	7603	13293	974
3-Mar	37055	7498	11158	8883	6579	6694	7803	11632	1097
3-Apr	29099	6560	9082	7359	5020	5273	5990	6116	860
3-May	37847	7095	10680	8120	4973	5665	6683	6528	1099
3-Jun	32532	6153	9271	6998	2857	6085	5165	5791	678
3-Jul	34201	7042	10207	7618	2993	4752	5570	6128	773
3-Aug	36639	7737	11217	7538	3700	4341	6371	6076	867
3-Sep	29171	6073	11767	7189	3288	3739	5100	5088	761
3-Oct	26530	5414	10426	6451	2913	3033	4479	5438	707
3-Nov	24890	5053	7996	5244	2372	3160	4670	3799	710
3-Dec	17349	4636	5849	4030	2307	2246	3571	2802	824
4-Jan	34913	8102	13405	8768	5044	7227	6540	7826	696
4-Feb	45312	8732	13252	10584	6561	8847	8057	8417	907
4-Mar	72095	10149	17532	13483	7983	12188	9686	10761	1104
4-Apr	64563	9618	15962	12632	4960	11344	7069	8327	993
4-May	53132	8916	14976	10343	5177	10222	7421	7616	923
4-Jun	42013	7423	11548	8432	3709	8820	6149	5611	885
4-Jul	39114	8826	9530	8654	4242	10774	5376	4581	1068
4-Aug	38740	8542	9716	8321	4573	10768	6570	5086	930
4-Sep	33120	7536	8416	7457	3953	9431	5118	4203	783
4-Oct	31940	7813	6702	7472	3856	8872	4691	3723	844
4-Nov	27673	7512	5428	5801	2795	8418	3997	2798	713
4-Dec	17631	7214	4632	4464	2768	5836	3367	1772	722
5-Jan	35873	9136	9390	9898	6120	10507	6331	4963	802
5-Feb	45875	10147	10864	13033	7248	12039	7530	5926	1113
5-Mar	64096	13176	12750	13249	7935	15734	8112	6632	1364
5-Apr	52644	14635	16534	15274	7584	17062	9043	6010	1276
5-May	40764	14796	15114	11041	6270	14051	7569	5352	866
5-Jun	31694	13109	10921	8445	4947	11522	5699	3829	620
5-Jul	32390	12208	10010	11568	5873	11809	6623	3712	761
5-Aug	29178	12713	11798	12099	6498	11988	6635	5047	777
5-Sep	29321	11727	12761	10335	6612	10600	5749	5958	678
5-Oct	27316	10060	10145	11027	4840	9428	5014	5072	655
5-Nov	24270	9111	7730	8191	4016	8913	4323	3831	590
5-Dec	16447	7128	6531	5668	2910	6884	3544	2998	563
6-Jan	33229	9533	13959	11941	4839	13743	7415	5797	739
6-Feb	43153	10444	17160	14457	5854	17117	9554	6399	908
6-Mar	63583	13080	18361	18668	5636	21231	10179	9048	910
6-Apr	51588	11264	14736	15238	4555	13034	8530	6847	746
6-May	40190	11649	13888	12239	2633	11087	6866	6187	711
6-Jun	25049	7516	10597	7664	2106	6029	4815	4112	478
6-Jul	21187	7109	8683	6970	1947	5446	4667	3240	392
6-Aug	23256	7020	10009	5027	1683	3123	5525	3705	403
6-Sep	22806	6614	10305	5166	1617	2514	4408	4229	425
6-Oct	25135	5772	9494	6183	1618	3478	4286	4379	368
6-Nov	21323	4549	7764	5098	1701	3240	3810	3667	442
6-Dec	16136	3649	6591	4189	1051	2601	2890	3037	383
7-Jan	29459	5798	12489	6570	2044	5357	4678	4983	556
7-Feb	34148	6172	12997	7482	2421	4474	5855	5187	532
7-Mar	52692	8431	18044	10537	3314	5571	7673	7198	677
7-Apr	49044	7645	17999	8957	2699	4108	6428	6983	602
7-May	41789	7736	16136	6741	1858	3162	4928	5747	407
7-Jun	34103	5791	13283	5632	1579	2151	4595	3842	362
7-Jul	30373	6225	12941	5109	1862	1660	4338	3835	439
7-Aug	24388	6331	13312	4969	1440	1305	3858	3789	403
7-Sep	19649	5331	11410	3997	1333	885	3375	3236	365
7-Oct	21730	5989	9801	3605	1679	1094	3825	3230	386
7-Nov	18231	4695	9163	2648	1059	955	2658	2412	388
7-Dec	11721	3974	7773	2015	945	954	1969	2000	451
8-Jan	26347	5216	12877	3470	1961	1061	3907	3839	350
8-Feb	34309	6880	15091	3944	2462	1089	5001	4095	612
8-Mar	45239	8543	18869	3129	2667	751	5355	4604	613
8-Apr	45442	9417	20569	2808	2286	523	4904	5090	527
8-May	32845	7967	16015	2035	1745	447	3733	3860	586
8-Jun	24289	6308	12395	1811	1708	381	3432	3161	369
8-Jul	21093	5562	13127	1634	1482	366	3066	2726	416
8-Aug	18406	6103	13734	1615	1618	345	3310	2995	415
8-Sep	18044	4819	12976	1598	1149	397	2498	2949	278
8-Oct	18814	5092	10036	1469	1321	339	2709	2619	539
8-Nov	12844	4259	7954	1153	1064	406	2465	2176	459
8-Dec	9862	3341	6552	866	872	359	1932	1691	472
9-Jan	18649	4575	10246	1344	1604	612	3970	2969	533
9-Feb	20941	5207	11678	1435	1908	731	3718	2904	689
9-Mar	31432	5479	16472	1508	2231	951	4538	4141	590
9-Apr	28072	6107	12618	1344	1619	793	4168	3314	458
9-May	24083	5293	11000	1238	1426	656	3722	2955	511
9-Jun	20842	5094	10278	1208	1304	655	3283	2811	569
9-Jul	20146	5509	8655	1160	1383	545	3512	2449	484
9-Aug	20810	6025	6743	1181	1321	429	3671	2767	575
9-Sep	15178	5008	6489	1093	1029	475	2881	2725	481
9-Oct	23197	4236	5017	1007	1119	582	2613	2589	530
9-Nov	16986	3688	4738	894	897	649	2130	2412	421
9-Dec	10907	2987	4636	725	697	711	1802	2196	373
10-Jan	16122	3658	6413	1124	1234	586	2526	2688	433
10-Feb	21266	4845	6982	1140	1245	819	3173	2836	484
10-Mar	31197	7141	9061	1528	1874	1059	4433	4408	660
10-Apr	28579	7139	7115	1359	1791	732	4528	3419	575
10-May	22572	7477	5858	1380	1718	608	3813	3126	493
10-Jun	13160	5595	5092	1005	1326	447	3475	2440	415
10-Jul	10303	3832	5113	725	767	401	1857	2331	280
10-Aug	9280	5329	4528	732	1095	262	2819	2075	295
10-Sep	8633	3839	4012	632	931	260	2118	2042	329
10-Oct	11165	3628	4344	732	1043	391	2286	2201	375
10-Nov	9097	3625	3480	660	837	391	2174	1851	290
10-Dec	7354	3349	3233	622	704	354	1797	1734	282
11-Jan	10131	3485	3379	779	899	501	2285	2135	332
11-Feb	11790	4233	3977	911	1399	664	2943	2569	300
11-Mar	17056	6806	4811	1354	2132	940	4686	3772	457
11-Apr	13816	6502	4031	1380	1977	579	3891	3563	512
11-May	12088	5953	3474	904	1499	522	3168	3278	350
11-Jun	9585	5409	3109	816	1525	317	3205	2904	296
11-Jul	6923	5276	3016	794	1386	402	2913	2225	235
11-Aug	7270	5973	2863	711	1356	346	3262	2074	311
11-Sep	7010	5004	2730	682	1387	426	3443	1885	296
11-Oct	9306	6201	2439	647	1364	590	2835	1946	284
11-Nov	8361	5513	2185	662	1289	497	2846	1698	317
11-Dec	7100	4285	2136	534	871	515	1853	1401	288
12-Jan	10209	5514	2185	625	1204	819	3180	1655	323
12-Feb	12836	6709	2439	812	1788	676	3855	2041	423
12-Mar	16559	9622	3064	1151	2375	986	5154	2857	450
12-Apr	14095	11160	2879	888	2791	517	5100	2805	393
12-May	11343	11583	2787	823	2480	546	4478	2622	304
12-Jun	8636	10112	2170	840	2123	362	4019	2107	300
12-Jul	6856	9023	2165	793	1942	330	3670	1896	303
12-Aug	7116	9295	2020	984	1770	332	4306	1411	333
12-Sep	7583	8745	1992	919	1723	330	3576	1477	246
12-Oct	9224	8869	1922	977	1792	433	3829	1527	356
12-Nov	9185	8352	1924	860	1715	417	3537	1408	238
12-Dec	8481	6587	1795	629	1135	467	2835	1101	213
13-Jan	9871	7190	2150	776	1617	594	3280	1103	340
13-Feb	11831	10828	2227	1030	2223	535	4628	1340	400
13-Mar	14990	16115	3062	1176	2771	762	5903	2098	416
13-Apr	14051	18455	2833	1217	2778	812	5621	1972	473
13-May	12119	17522	2854	1163	2332	674	5338	1513	341
13-Jun	9357	14275	2324	857	1695	445	4029	1222	232
13-Jul	7014	15217	2313	852	2039	329	4212	1035	219
13-Aug	7278	16253	2069	852	1817	310	3944	1056	218
13-Sep	7538	14790	2023	765	1596	328	3593	931	238
13-Oct	9785	15192	2218	885	1587	498	3638	1193	316
13-Nov	8334	14170	2153	845	1586	445	3026	1077	260
13-Dec	7629	13540	2091	738	1360	375	2567	987	241
14-Jan	6825	12255	2548	813	1514	553	2756	1126	278
14-Feb	7566	16808	2469	1060	2133	642	3838	1365	522
14-Mar	8925	25398	3378	1278	2823	760	5087	1502	445
14-Apr	8473	28624	3035	1244	2616	549	5117	1441	403
14-May	8407	37510	2863	1371	3432	636	4737	1353	374
14-Jun	6867	38446	2438	1221	2857	470	3946	1203	414
14-Jul	5019	24938	2497	939	1830	348	3546	1250	341
14-Aug	5105	17273	2132	948	1279	294	2960	1095	302
14-Sep	4980	12239	2089	997	1238	332	2831	919	200
14-Oct	5261	12031	2133	904	1246	403	3276	894	302
14-Nov	5303	11466	1924	924	985	425	2540	842	232
14-Dec	5610	11035	2280	921	1051	439	2367	980	336
15-Jan	4869	8425	2111	874	985	339	2776	902	233
15-Feb	5553	9557	2466	859	1291	465	2864	991	330
15-Mar	6256	11817	2876	1455	1718	768	3093	1355	453
15-Apr	5543	12602	2284	1516	2100	526	3497	1244	438
15-May	6105	14103	2308	1335	2083	653	3127	1295	567
15-Jun	5081	13750	2081	1410	1928	659	2958	1063	373
15-Jul	4071	13719	1985	1417	1752	834	3110	1072	428
15-Aug	4733	14750	1883	1436	1918	789	3072	1058	600
15-Sep	5012	14002	1959	1444	1956	842	3208	1124	739
15-Oct	5899	15036	2081	1639	1873	1101	3146	1214	735
15-Nov	5791	15297	2022	1679	1798	1126	3249	1239	637
15-Dec	6263	17736	2196	2187	2185	1509	2995	1253	690
16-Jan	4572	9398	2525	1148	1531	681	2454	1061	388
16-Feb	5245	9660	2504	1399	1780	789	2895	1342	458
16-Mar	6142	13325	3108	2158	2022	974	3196	1775	616
16-Apr	5784	16688	3329	2408	2224	1166	3654	2097	739
16-May	6574	18291	3118	2481	2588	1391	3403	2000	491
16-Jun	5427	15972	2522	2369	1918	1325	2906	1719	292
16-Jul	4364	16519	2555	2503	1833	1289	2647	1669	344
16-Aug	4303	19155	2748	2708	1445	1428	2888	2047	326
16-Sep	4527	19753	3183	2955	1881	1391	3129	2032	650
16-Oct	5924	22642	2934	3973	2106	2117	3350	2441	697
16-Nov	5912	24686	2947	4105	1880	2034	3194	1850	603
16-Dec	4303	23418	3099	3948	1817	1859	2460	1870	477
17-Jan	3357	15580	2927	2779	1243	1156	2265	1796	473
17-Feb	2589	7855	1808	1575	1104	534	1710	1196	383
17-Mar	2148	4147	1356	978	746	336	1256	871	357
17-Apr	1487	3942	1392	906	589	245	1304	849	413
17-May	2199	4882	1724	1032	740	534	1722	1134	552
17-Jun	2632	5817	1652	1180	761	548	1839	1280	378
17-Jul	2177	7107	1764	1395	760	894	2120	1478	492
17-Aug	2913	8650	2241	1782	798	1318	2143	1880	563
17-Sep	3016	8836	2242	1540	932	1272	2097	1988	614
17-Oct	3854	9722	2377	1489	1046	1536	2451	2194	819
17-Nov	4562	11726	2760	1647	1186	1970	2283	2123	828
17-Dec	4400	11668	2764	1713	1113	2443	1982	2110	802
18-Jan	3925	9484	3171	1607	1083	1814	2296	2052	543
18-Feb	3824	9611	3107	1737	1306	1618	2671	1954	838
18-Mar	5785	14140	4101	2782	1466	2064	3652	2697	703
18-Apr	5012	15993	3644	2671	1451	2504	3370	2790	808
18-May	4760	17491	3418	3510	1486	3038	3210	2683	743
18-Jun	4146	14703	3014	3560	1462	1916	2586	2327	375
18-Jul	3241	13238	3098	2890	1365	1880	2600	2531	456
18-Aug	3627	16744	3507	3585	1506	2364	2785	2821	585
18-Sep	5036	17742	3630	4370	1363	3097	2755	2948	545
18-Oct	5828	20755	4227	7334	2002	3614	3448	3242	555
18-Nov	5062	20713	4577	8867	2088	4244	2669	3189	448
18-Dec	4912	18372	5816	9450	2024	4779	2059	2718	621
19-Jan	4096	17713	4122	9137	2524	4706	2632	2461	588
19-Feb	4911	25366	5448	14171	4013	5687	3123	3319	845
19-Mar	7257	33763	6881	22224	5563	8450	4192	3561	942
19-Apr	5921	36727	6197	27073	5848	9205	3975	3386	941
19-May	6875	49821	5882	38637	8563	13924	4115	3482	1557
19-Jun	5517	43207	4684	18882	8085	7195	3819	2885	628
19-Jul	4129	36854	3458	11594	6686	3558	2686	2214	799
19-Aug	4080	22355	3321	8078	5297	1883	2421	2327	922
19-Sep	4902	13489	3436	6696	4576	1024	3239	2354	791
19-Oct	6335	9740	3640	5234	3198	793	3811	1998	653
19-Nov	6514	8557	3679	5086	3119	778	3354	1911	526
19-Dec	6647	7825	4097	5099	3003	759	3125	1755	543
20-Jan	5158	6479	4209	4394	2348	696	3618	1699	604
20-Feb	5184	6703	4672	3366	2622	1002	3946	2020	562
20-Mar	5106	7208	4704	3414	2619	576	4024	2063	675
20-Apr	2615	3459	2268	1759	2027	298	1991	1258	507
20-May	3070	3698	3311	2617	2289	745	3355	1880	628
20-Jun	4703	5414	4951	3876	3471	948	4040	2773	660
20-Jul	5605	7571	5556	5091	4163	790	5445	3569	746
20-Aug	6766	10243	6032	6560	5129	684	7242	3507	1120
20-Sep	8373	13309	6163	7900	6354	735	7474	3059	1404
20-Oct	11469	17617	6953	8777	8446	787	9373	4089	1521
20-Nov	12189	17305	7722	8748	8714	990	8244	3636	1621
20-Dec	11146	17214	8510	11028	9196	1203	7746	3118	1980
21-Jan	10749	17056	9880	10617	11142	1624	8633	2946	2669
21-Feb	14750	28403	9725	13184	11094	5128	8486	3777	3096
21-Mar	19870	62685	13380	19456	20052	11882	11180	6211	4500
21-Apr	20283	60874	14680	19797	21779	13734	10925	7039	4588
21-May	19908	51146	14602	22219	27932	12180	12092	7525	5050
21-Jun	18405	59521	15119	21507	30707	12432	10272	6132	4554
21-Jul	17983	81006	15550	20550	33600	14846	8518	5172	3433
21-Aug	16721	81178	13599	20220	33062	17244	8167	4643	1680
21-Sep	17759	55072	12739	17815	43570	22438	8605	4943	2574
21-Oct	19189	45382	14339	14001	28213	21897	7444	5042	3606
21-Nov	21515	47999	13448	15538	30226	23062	8030	3889	3308
21-Dec	15758	43848	13624	19470	33260	29787	7305	4140	3410
22-Jan	17716	30232	12294	18039	31154	23858	7375	4830	2379
22-Feb	21208	33847	13517	20618	30815	20968	9501	5689	3007
22-Mar	27239	44072	16662	25618	41631	30927	13800	7567	3665
22-Apr	25281	41922	14616	29865	40931	28681	12577	6248	3383
22-May	25939	46011	17113	34643	44735	34371	11682	6996	2880
22-Jun	21270	44663	14037	26242	45610	22362	9886	6305	2024
22-Jul	16623	35189	15991	25024	49618	24460	6603	6707	1619
22-Aug	18506	27286	14751	29756	52735	24226	6299	6815	1400
22-Sep	21740	27673	15898	49030	52003	25495	6341	8150	1267
22-Oct	22938	28290	17875	53318	42767	25314	6012	7316	1304
22-Nov	23411	27832	16850	53529	48196	25006	4309	7024	1523
22-Dec	22131	28189	18952	55769	51701	30974	3353	9759	1190
23-Jan	20261	14913	15440	30038	28425	11537	3257	4563	1079
23-Feb	23560	14981	17030	32911	22939	10510	4114	3495	981
23-Mar	33898	17956	23286	40103	23904	13667	5210	4448	1200
23-Apr	33960	37881	25123	42552	20809	13672	5394	3349	1181
23-May	30139	38032	22858	26172	29971	15284	3464	4041	1421
23-Jun	24359	11435	12901	13231	24632	8969	1919	1680	412
23-Jul	39215	26527	15032	16466	24505	6599	2436	1458	404
23-Aug	48752	46537	18985	25234	29689	6734	3097	1458	568
23-Sep	51001	45764	26609	38148	45688	5935	3079	1979	560
23-Oct	55226	32110	29903	22107	38207	5870	2827	2049	479
23-Nov	64637	18774	31164	22404	42950	6159	2810	1787	427
23-Dec	80185	18208	34372	33970	71095	7145	2267	2222	321

Data table

Border Patrol’s migrant apprehensions jumped 31 percent from November (191,112). Increased migration from Venezuela, which more than doubled, accounted for 41 percent of the border-wide month-to-month increase.

December also saw big increases in migration between ports of entry from the other three nationalities (in addition to Venezuela) whose citizens the Biden administration allows to apply for its humanitarian parole program: Cuba (+192 percent from November to December), Haiti (+1,266 percent), and Nicaragua (+91 percent). This may mean that the humanitarian parole program is saturated by demand and insufficient supply.

It was the first month since May 2022 that more than 1,000 Haitian citizens crossed between the ports of entry and ended up in Border Patrol custody.

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

December 2023: Mexico 23%, Venezuela 19%, Guatemala 14%, Honduras 8%, Colombia 7.2%, Ecuador 6.8%, Nicaragua 3%, All Others <3% 

Since October 2020: Mexico 32%, Guatemala 12%, Honduras 11%, Venezuela 8%, Cuba 6%, Colombia 5%, All Others <5%

	Mexico	Guatemala	Honduras	Venezuela	Cuba	Colombia	Nicaragua	Ecuador	El Salvador	Other Countries
20-Oct	44137	9225	7330	134	1661	23	253	2195	2985	1089
20-Nov	41541	10279	8146	171	1583	59	385	2712	3607	686
20-Dec	36900	12394	10296	192	2041	70	636	3619	3882	1111
21-Jan	38122	13082	11162	284	1876	51	533	3568	3533	3105
21-Feb	41344	19029	20102	892	3810	65	700	3409	5562	2730
21-Mar	59347	33921	41989	2356	5658	147	1925	5553	9423	8897
21-Apr	62170	29782	37738	5850	3258	200	3049	8047	10843	12762
21-May	66237	25846	30624	7386	2625	379	4378	11655	10051	13473
21-Jun	59469	29423	32620	7467	2971	440	7388	12758	11055	15058
21-Jul	52995	35674	42594	6018	3451	707	13426	17260	12157	16376
21-Aug	49609	36216	39532	6211	4406	1493	9888	17577	11974	19608
21-Sep	56166	24162	26798	10791	4799	2204	7280	7339	10858	35118
21-Oct	62898	19301	21779	13396	5877	2983	9251	747	9759	13122
21-Nov	59153	20379	19917	20349	6582	3322	13578	552	9586	13597
21-Dec	46902	20908	17856	24764	7960	4049	15280	664	8757	23462
22-Jan	55697	13746	11726	22748	9702	3875	11547	594	5702	12540
22-Feb	67185	18081	13689	3065	16538	9555	13276	680	6997	10104
22-Mar	82797	21245	15709	4031	32104	15309	16004	873	8250	14859
22-Apr	76851	19453	14261	4075	34817	13076	12556	1617	7739	19059
22-May	70606	21076	17999	5064	25458	19273	18996	3040	8371	34487
22-Jun	60574	24219	22712	13141	16026	12539	11158	3214	8724	20092
22-Jul	48347	19810	18123	17602	20079	13404	12035	2931	7540	21963
22-Aug	52398	15092	13218	25302	19022	13405	11706	3659	6048	21924
22-Sep	55372	14910	12197	33749	26156	13750	18165	5373	5723	22202
22-Oct	56847	14250	10655	21845	28817	17304	20899	7001	5373	22143
22-Nov	49016	13965	10153	6803	34675	15713	34202	11953	4845	26355
22-Dec	36768	14246	10329	6205	42617	17572	35355	16151	4157	38618
23-Jan	52468	11531	8982	2348	6217	9260	3336	9347	3351	22673
23-Feb	59482	14016	10098	1457	176	12682	399	7292	4502	20417
23-Mar	72043	14884	11524	3326	117	16705	230	6929	5364	32550
23-Apr	59668	14311	12112	29731	322	17514	372	6197	4389	39305
23-May	43612	14151	17810	28054	941	17625	463	6269	4574	37883
23-Jun	33958	9548	10659	12549	351	3915	179	4706	2040	21633
23-Jul	36003	21490	23090	11427	632	5194	272	9581	3062	21891
23-Aug	39508	37205	31742	22090	756	8040	603	13239	5063	22808
23-Sep	39773	33669	23505	54833	877	12553	1447	15148	6628	30330
23-Oct	48998	23015	18043	29635	1213	12843	3032	11730	6345	33924
23-Nov	50970	25522	16593	23010	1703	14116	4293	13147	6704	35054
23-Dec	56236	34708	18991	46937	4968	17874	8180	16958	5817	39116

Data table

CBP encounters with migrants at ports of entry

At the official border crossings, CBP’s Office of Field Operations encountered 52,249 migrants. This is a record—though not by a wide margin, as CBP tightly controls who gets to step on U.S. soil and approach its ports of entry. Since July 2023, port-of-entry encounters have been within a narrow band: between 50,837 and 52,249. Of December’s encounters, CBP’s release indicates, 45,770 (88 percent, 1,476 per day) had made appointments using the CBP One smartphone app.

CBP Port of Entry Migrant Encounters by Country at the U.S.-Mexico Border

December 2023: Mexico 25%, Cuba 24%, Venezuela 21%, Haiti 15%, Honduras 3.7%, Russia 3.6%, All Others <2% 

Since October 2020: Mexico 36%, Haiti 14%, Venezuela 12%, Honduras 8%, Cuba 7.6%, Russia 7.3%, Ukraine 3%, All Others <3%

	Mexico	Haiti	Venezuela	Honduras	Cuba	Russia	Ukraine	El Salvador	Guatemala	Other Countries
20-Oct	2649	1	9	40	18	7	6	29	67	71
20-Nov	2623	3	13	53	7	58	3	43	44	97
20-Dec	2470	1	14	62	26	50	6	39	60	125
21-Jan	2671	1	11	70	23	75	4	47	55	141
21-Feb	2913	4	21	78	38	66	19	37	125	155
21-Mar	3157	7	210	127	42	101	6	52	139	220
21-Apr	3427	5	198	467	30	185	31	200	271	282
21-May	4637	103	113	1507	39	177	55	411	606	295
21-Jun	5439	211	116	2413	101	321	35	527	823	399
21-Jul	6964	531	108	2703	108	603	97	562	794	465
21-Aug	6788	812	90	2593	90	656	129	718	892	558
21-Sep	3819	44	23	280	13	1295	243	95	126	548
21-Oct	3151	1	20	82	19	1497	181	42	73	658
21-Nov	4693	13	39	188	23	1605	223	78	90	878
21-Dec	4573	36	37	285	26	1875	329	117	101	1272
22-Jan	4644	99	31	285	19	772	188	108	110	741
22-Feb	4665	160	8	386	19	553	184	149	134	582
22-Mar	5335	268	22	504	49	976	3155	153	147	784
22-Apr	5717	1277	32	1473	22	1465	20102	616	457	1120
22-May	6847	2752	24	1731	185	2401	265	609	392	1560
22-Jun	6156	3924	58	1465	146	1264	67	399	429	1527
22-Jul	7345	5027	45	2217	19	1119	45	412	402	1697
22-Aug	8374	6372	59	3001	38	1117	17	627	589	2119
22-Sep	8059	4977	55	2220	22	1922	23	524	421	1727
22-Oct	9430	6592	215	3445	34	3210	14	696	593	2166
22-Nov	10332	5433	1210	2990	35	4325	5	687	545	1931
22-Dec	11622	5107	1982	2947	37	4989	15	703	639	2256
23-Jan	9797	3127	6754	2048	245	3504	6	428	439	1497
23-Feb	5789	7406	4108	837	577	4465	12	217	204	2494
23-Mar	9264	4252	4994	1831	1199	3652	26	401	409	3549
23-Apr	7423	7041	4902	1106	1286	2318	13	288	273	3421
23-May	11793	4786	4679	3225	1863	2811	21	775	666	4689
23-Jun	15304	7331	7904	4434	2330	1242	15	1142	814	4502
23-Jul	17925	10669	7531	2933	3036	1736	15	891	637	5464
23-Aug	15985	8687	9373	3426	5423	2014	15	1017	732	5237
23-Sep	13523	4587	11751	3805	9789	1554	14	922	868	4159
23-Oct	13998	4653	11223	3775	11282	1755	13	905	837	3762
23-Nov	13839	5500	11054	2276	12798	1259	10	685	777	3097
23-Dec	12806	7666	10932	1956	12600	1870	23	579	658	3159

Data Table

All encounters

Combine the Border Patrol and port-of-entry totals, and U.S. border authorities encountered 302,034 people at the U.S.-Mexico border last month. That is a record.

All CBP (Border Patrol Plus Port of Entry) Migrant Encounters
by Country at the U.S.-Mexico Border

November 2023: Mexico 23%, Venezuela 19%, Guatemala 12%, Honduras 7%, Colombia 6.2%, Cuba 5.8%, Ecuador 5.7%, All Others <3%

Since October 2020: Mexico 32%, Guatemala 12%, Honduras 11%, Venezuela 8%, Cuba 6%, Colombia 4.96%, Nicaragua 4.89%, All Others <5%

	Mexico	Guatemala	Honduras	Venezuela	Cuba	Colombia	Nicaragua	Ecuador	El Salvador	Other Countries
20-Oct	44137	9225	7330	134	1661	23	253	2195	2985	1089
20-Nov	41541	10279	8146	171	1583	59	385	2712	3607	686
20-Dec	36900	12394	10296	192	2041	70	636	3619	3882	1111
21-Jan	38122	13082	11162	284	1876	51	533	3568	3533	3105
21-Feb	41344	19029	20102	892	3810	65	700	3409	5562	2730
21-Mar	59347	33921	41989	2356	5658	147	1925	5553	9423	8897
21-Apr	62170	29782	37738	5850	3258	200	3049	8047	10843	12762
21-May	66237	25846	30624	7386	2625	379	4378	11655	10051	13473
21-Jun	59469	29423	32620	7467	2971	440	7388	12758	11055	15058
21-Jul	52995	35674	42594	6018	3451	707	13426	17260	12157	16376
21-Aug	49609	36216	39532	6211	4406	1493	9888	17577	11974	19608
21-Sep	56166	24162	26798	10791	4799	2204	7280	7339	10858	35118
21-Oct	62898	19301	21779	13396	5877	2983	9251	747	9759	13122
21-Nov	59153	20379	19917	20349	6582	3322	13578	552	9586	13597
21-Dec	46902	20908	17856	24764	7960	4049	15280	664	8757	23462
22-Jan	55697	13746	11726	22748	9702	3875	11547	594	5702	12540
22-Feb	67185	18081	13689	3065	16538	9555	13276	680	6997	10104
22-Mar	82797	21245	15709	4031	32104	15309	16004	873	8250	14859
22-Apr	76851	19453	14261	4075	34817	13076	12556	1617	7739	19059
22-May	70606	21076	17999	5064	25458	19273	18996	3040	8371	34487
22-Jun	60574	24219	22712	13141	16026	12539	11158	3214	8724	20092
22-Jul	48347	19810	18123	17602	20079	13404	12035	2931	7540	21963
22-Aug	52398	15092	13218	25302	19022	13405	11706	3659	6048	21924
22-Sep	55372	14910	12197	33749	26156	13750	18165	5373	5723	22202
22-Oct	56847	14250	10655	21845	28817	17304	20899	7001	5373	22143
22-Nov	49016	13965	10153	6803	34675	15713	34202	11953	4845	26355
22-Dec	36768	14246	10329	6205	42617	17572	35355	16151	4157	38618
23-Jan	52468	11531	8982	2348	6217	9260	3336	9347	3351	22673
23-Feb	59482	14016	10098	1457	176	12682	399	7292	4502	20417
23-Mar	72043	14884	11524	3326	117	16705	230	6929	5364	32550
23-Apr	59668	14311	12112	29731	322	17514	372	6197	4389	39305
23-May	43612	14151	17810	28054	941	17625	463	6269	4574	37883
23-Jun	33958	9548	10659	12549	351	3915	179	4706	2040	21633
23-Jul	36003	21490	23090	11427	632	5194	272	9581	3062	21891
23-Aug	39508	37205	31742	22090	756	8040	603	13239	5063	22808
23-Sep	39773	33669	23505	54833	877	12553	1447	15148	6628	30330
23-Oct	62996	23852	21818	40858	12495	13773	3306	12156	7250	42477
23-Nov	64809	26299	18869	34064	14501	15021	4440	13483	7389	43532
23-Dec	69042	35366	20947	57869	17568	18690	8286	17242	6396	50628

Data table

Border Patrol apprehensions of unaccompanied children, or parents and children

46 percent of migrants apprehended by Border Patrol between ports of entry in December were members of family units (41 percent) or minors who arrived unaccompanied (5 percent). That is the 24th-highest child-and-family share of Border Patrol’s last 147 months, and probably ever: high, but nowhere near a record.

The overall number of children and families (114,192), however, was the second-most ever, nearly matching the record set in September 2023.

Unaccompanied Children and Families Encountered at the U.S. Border (Border Patrol)

	Unaccompanied Children	Family Unit Members
Oct-11	1465	896
Nov-11	1446	848
Dec-11	1259	732
Jan-12	1635	1026
Feb-12	2077	936
Mar-12	2755	1227
Apr-12	2703	1208
May-12	2541	925
Jun-12	2071	791
Jul-12	2118	898
Aug-12	2289	918
Sep-12	2044	711
Oct-12	2333	799
Nov-12	2392	776
Dec-12	2218	746
Jan-13	2260	847
Feb-13	2986	923
Mar-13	4120	1310
Apr-13	4206	1384
May-13	3985	1315
Jun-13	3384	1250
Jul-13	3607	1651
Aug-13	3718	1907
Sep-13	3550	1947
Oct-13	4181	2414
Nov-13	4344	2786
Dec-13	4327	3311
Jan-14	3706	2286
Feb-14	4845	3281
Mar-14	7176	5752
Apr-14	7701	6511
May-14	10578	12772
Jun-14	10620	16330
Jul-14	5499	7405
Aug-14	3138	3296
Sep-14	2426	2301
Oct-14	2519	2162
Nov-14	2610	2415
Dec-14	2858	2891
Jan-15	2118	1622
Feb-15	2385	2041
Mar-15	3126	2782
Apr-15	3273	3087
May-15	2943	3861
Jun-15	3833	4042
Jul-15	4182	4503
Aug-15	4638	5159
Sep-15	4485	5273
Oct-15	4943	6025
Nov-15	5604	6471
Dec-15	6757	8973
Jan-16	3089	3143
Feb-16	3092	3050
Mar-16	4209	4451
Apr-16	5162	5620
May-16	5594	6783
Jun-16	4750	6627
Jul-16	5026	7569
Aug-16	5767	9353
Sep-16	5699	9609
Oct-16	6704	13115
Nov-16	7346	15588
Dec-16	7187	16139
Jan-17	4405	9300
Feb-17	1910	3123
Mar-17	1041	1126
Apr-17	997	1118
May-17	1473	1580
Jun-17	1949	2322
Jul-17	2475	3389
Aug-17	2987	4631
Sep-17	2961	4191
Oct-17	3153	4836
Nov-17	3973	7016
Dec-17	4063	8119
Jan-18	3202	5654
Feb-18	3115	5475
Mar-18	4141	8873
Apr-18	4287	9648
May-18	6388	9485
Jun-18	5115	9449
Jul-18	3938	9258
Aug-18	4393	12760
Sep-18	4360	16658
Oct-18	4964	23116
Nov-18	5257	25164
Dec-18	4753	27507
Jan-19	5105	24188
Feb-19	6817	36530
Mar-19	8956	53204
Apr-19	8880	58713
May-19	11475	84486
Jun-19	7372	57358
Jul-19	5554	42543
Aug-19	3722	25049
Sep-19	3165	15824
Oct-19	2841	9721
Nov-19	3308	9006
Dec-19	3223	8595
Jan-20	2680	5161
Feb-20	3070	4610
Mar-20	2974	3455
Apr-20	712	716
May-20	966	979
Jun-20	1603	1581
Jul-20	2426	1989
Aug-20	2998	2609
Sep-20	3756	3808
Oct-20	4687	4634
Nov-20	4475	4172
Dec-20	4852	4248
Jan-21	5688	7066
Feb-21	9263	19289
Mar-21	18716	53411
Apr-21	16900	48297
May-21	13878	40816
Jun-21	15022	50106
Jul-21	18681	76572
Aug-21	18492	79899
Sep-21	14180	62577
Oct-21	12625	41556
Nov-21	13745	43279
Dec-21	11704	49437
Jan-22	8607	30419
Feb-22	11779	25165
Mar-22	13892	34052
Apr-22	11857	37082
May-22	14420	51166
Jun-22	14929	44071
Jul-22	13003	42851
Aug-22	10993	39305
Sep-22	11539	44579
Oct-22	11654	46745
Nov-22	12780	49827
Dec-22	11829	60843
Jan-23	9034	25829
Feb-23	10418	25643
Mar-23	11852	33269
Apr-23	11062	46555
May-23	9442	45026
Jun-23	6732	31271
Jul-23	10035	60165
Aug-23	13527	93111
Sep-23	13154	103027
Oct-23	10706	84404
Nov-23	11945	82689
Dec-23	12467	101725

Data table

CBP encounters with family units (parents with children)

Combining Border Patrol apprehensions with port-of-entry encounters, December 2023 saw the second-highest-ever monthly total of family unit-member encounters: 123,512, just short of September 2023’s record total of 123,815.

Family-unit encounters rose 19 percent from November to December. Citizens of Venezuela arriving as families accounted for 38 percent of the month-to-month increase, and citizens of Mexico accounted for 28 percent.

Family Unit Member / Accompanied Minor CBP (Border Patrol Plus Port of Entry)
Migrant Encounters by Country at the U.S.-Mexico Border

December 2023: Mexico 30%, Venezuela 18%, Guatemala 11%, Honduras 9%, Colombia 7%, Ecuador 6%, All Others <5%

Since October 2020: Honduras 16%, Mexico 15%, Venezuela 11.34%, Guatemala 11.32%, Colombia 7%, Ecuador 6%, All Others <6%

	Honduras	Mexico	Venezuela	Guatemala	Colombia	Ecuador	Cuba	Brazil	El Salvador	Other Countries
20-Oct	1133	1343	83	826	2	201	119	29	529	594
20-Nov	927	1339	89	898	16	242	163	22	419	276
20-Dec	1222	879	109	759	3	239	256	43	452	531
21-Jan	1971	1086	148	979	15	264	290	169	508	1971
21-Feb	9104	1440	462	3822	13	380	699	646	1850	1319
21-Mar	24965	2346	1194	11725	53	1679	1152	2365	4137	4675
21-Apr	19773	2665	2697	8527	95	2936	678	4462	4395	4000
21-May	13711	3356	3217	5521	185	3610	635	5409	3479	5779
21-Jun	16713	3940	3346	8519	214	4903	720	5764	4390	7556
21-Jul	26034	5029	2912	16092	348	9505	747	7711	5988	9438
21-Aug	25540	5191	2873	18018	806	9977	966	8022	6549	9112
21-Sep	14056	2502	5192	7262	1057	2530	1129	9153	4829	16903
21-Oct	10453	2221	6201	4150	1510	150	1448	6766	4115	5971
21-Nov	8713	2715	9283	3615	1632	247	1828	5734	3873	7724
21-Dec	7198	2639	11527	3146	2186	248	1815	6857	3002	13434
22-Jan	3826	2096	9196	1687	1833	218	2049	2294	1363	7680
22-Feb	3878	2237	1129	2226	4444	240	3512	1071	1606	6608
22-Mar	4031	2752	1322	2367	6239	321	7337	966	1915	10923
22-Apr	4357	3454	1342	2172	6088	727	7928	2360	2054	24937
22-May	7001	4598	1626	3119	9478	1659	5096	3836	2649	20729
22-Jun	9973	3837	3565	5979	6191	1757	3588	2586	2905	11593
22-Jul	7238	4584	5344	3943	6485	1702	4843	3526	2189	12470
22-Aug	4907	5598	7078	1935	6659	2232	4933	3820	1660	13246
22-Sep	3706	5551	8756	1692	6716	3384	7279	1163	1517	14502
22-Oct	4411	7293	7196	1791	8531	4715	7878	670	1584	16067
22-Nov	3698	8398	3487	1764	7872	7367	9597	571	1424	19517
22-Dec	4338	9832	3866	2194	8605	10035	12555	856	1378	23949
23-Jan	2500	8827	3441	1223	4095	5328	1976	651	795	9824
23-Feb	1345	7337	1739	1554	5646	4072	117	877	595	10517
23-Mar	2532	12216	3009	1962	7842	3505	384	1367	777	12996
23-Apr	2304	10356	14098	3199	8329	2962	435	1832	819	14354
23-May	7656	12962	8837	4548	7949	2930	694	1771	1427	12871
23-Jun	7641	16471	9499	4315	2342	2494	713	1657	1212	9716
23-Jul	17624	21812	8955	13984	2822	5517	1047	1846	1936	10815
23-Aug	25309	21176	15161	26596	4264	7339	1677	1798	3659	9907
23-Sep	18240	22949	26385	24109	6183	7709	3002	1325	4966	9079
23-Oct	13463	29755	17337	15194	5829	5586	3705	1092	4905	9539
23-Nov	10708	32035	15449	13986	6383	5829	4430	1128	4811	9513
23-Dec	11016	37405	22841	14184	8101	7372	5498	1206	3585	12444

Data table

CBP encounters with unaccompanied minors

Combining Border Patrol apprehensions with port-of-entry encounters, December 2023 saw 12,467 children arrive at the border unaccompanied. That was the 17th-highest monthly total ever, and a 5 percent increase over November 2023.

The nationalities that contributed most to the increase in unaccompanied child arrivals were Haiti, Mexico, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. Arrivals from El Salvador and Honduras both declined.

Unaccompanied Child CBP (Border Patrol Plus Port of Entry) Migrant Encounters
by Country at the U.S.-Mexico Border

December 2023: Guatemala 34%, Mexico 25%, Honduras 15%, El Salvador 6%, Venezuela 5%, Haiti 4%, All Others <4%

Since October 2020: Guatemala 38%, Honduras 25%, Mexico 19%, El Salvador 9%, Ecuador 2%, All Others <2%

	Guatemala	Honduras	Mexico	El Salvador	Ecuador	Nicaragua	Venezuela	Colombia	Cuba	Other Countries
20-Oct	1080	769	2471	337	117	16	1	1	1	17
20-Nov	1359	655	2033	349	166	19	1	0	1	8
20-Dec	1663	946	1754	356	188	35	1	0	2	20
21-Jan	2074	1149	1882	391	251	16	3	0	2	52
21-Feb	3910	2562	1869	770	178	57	4	1	0	51
21-Mar	8373	5947	2380	1580	311	171	11	6	5	86
21-Apr	6626	5209	2365	2094	378	224	34	3	3	131
21-May	5252	3821	2480	1670	394	263	47	2	1	122
21-Jun	6179	4204	2238	1846	358	276	46	3	3	77
21-Jul	8011	5624	2067	2114	589	388	48	14	3	96
21-Aug	8268	5341	2039	2115	570	268	41	20	6	138
21-Sep	5983	3677	2119	1907	194	192	78	36	5	167
21-Oct	5076	3147	2419	1672	20	226	85	29	8	101
21-Nov	6003	3373	2182	1733	27	322	123	20	14	132
21-Dec	5289	2599	1893	1346	26	305	155	36	15	214
22-Jan	3066	1950	2159	950	14	241	167	29	25	147
22-Feb	4866	2776	2626	1139	42	229	15	64	54	168
22-Mar	5488	3403	3019	1480	30	269	14	72	111	251
22-Apr	4731	2622	2700	1283	72	207	14	73	134	333
22-May	5850	3763	2460	1616	129	332	33	115	98	279
22-Jun	6313	4422	2148	1583	142	214	78	93	73	184
22-Jul	5293	3830	1890	1323	146	251	111	83	130	211
22-Aug	4345	2712	2194	1151	163	244	146	94	124	168
22-Sep	4460	2777	2304	1155	219	318	198	108	180	181
22-Oct	4455	2675	2429	1095	246	397	157	125	226	211
22-Nov	5198	2977	2113	1160	292	578	102	111	357	232
22-Dec	4851	2633	1875	899	459	569	82	167	451	291
23-Jan	3273	2013	2419	704	374	98	71	87	100	241
23-Feb	4094	2537	2619	825	316	24	86	88	12	235
23-Mar	4281	3130	3056	917	305	22	94	138	12	397
23-Apr	3806	2865	2512	935	231	11	386	153	6	545
23-May	3145	2602	2132	844	271	19	276	166	25	447
23-Jun	2092	1966	1833	456	215	16	304	62	14	316
23-Jul	3604	3159	2294	569	301	25	251	56	28	348
23-Aug	5404	3992	2605	812	439	54	460	80	45	346
23-Sep	5260	3221	2441	944	438	66	718	157	83	443
23-Oct	3794	2274	2716	858	324	151	476	155	118	645
23-Nov	4522	2073	3173	962	352	176	450	189	131	775
23-Dec	4555	1975	3344	753	426	321	610	232	165	1094

Data table

Border Patrol apprehensions of single adults

When the pandemic-area Title 42 expulsions policy was in effect, Border Patrol apprehensions of single adults skyrocketed. The reasoning was that (a) a large portion of adult migrants were seeking to evade apprehension, not turn themselves in to seek asylum; and (b) when Title 42 caused them to be expelled to Mexico after a very brief time in Border Patrol custody, many attempted to migrate again, leading to many more repeat apprehensions.

That was borne out in the months after Title 42 ended, when single adult apprehensions dropped sharply. However, even without a quick expulsions policy in place, Border Patrol’s apprehensions of single adult migrants between the ports of entry jumped 41 percent from November to December, from 96,478 to 135,593. This was the 8th largest monthly total of single adult migrant apprehensions of the past 147 months.

Single Adult Migrant Encounters and Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border (Border Patrol)

Demographic Category	Single Adults
11-Oct	23,251
11-Nov	21,074
11-Dec	16,992
12-Jan	23,053
12-Feb	28,566
12-Mar	38,236
12-Apr	36,717
12-May	33,500
12-Jun	27,807
12-Jul	23,962
12-Aug	24,360
12-Sep	23,836
12-Oct	25,797
12-Nov	24,468
12-Dec	20,279
13-Jan	23,814
13-Feb	31,133
13-Mar	41,863
13-Apr	42,622
13-May	38,556
13-Jun	29,802
13-Jul	28,072
13-Aug	28,172
13-Sep	26,305
13-Oct	28,717
13-Nov	24,766
13-Dec	21,890
14-Jan	22,676
14-Feb	28,277
14-Mar	36,668
14-Apr	37,290
14-May	37,333
14-Jun	30,912
14-Jul	27,804
14-Aug	24,954
14-Sep	21,098
14-Oct	21,769
14-Nov	19,616
14-Dec	19,270
15-Jan	17,774
15-Feb	19,950
15-Mar	23,883
15-Apr	23,390
15-May	24,772
15-Jun	21,428
15-Jul	19,703
15-Aug	20,442
15-Sep	20,528
15-Oct	21,756
15-Nov	20,763
15-Dec	21,284
16-Jan	17,526
16-Feb	19,930
16-Mar	24,656
16-Apr	27,307
16-May	27,960
16-Jun	23,073
16-Jul	21,128
16-Aug	21,928
16-Sep	24,193
16-Oct	26,365
16-Nov	24,277
16-Dec	19,925
17-Jan	17,871
17-Feb	13,721
17-Mar	10,028
17-Apr	9,012
17-May	11,466
17-Jun	11,816
17-Jul	12,323
17-Aug	14,670
17-Sep	15,385
17-Oct	17,495
17-Nov	18,097
17-Dec	16,815
18-Jan	17,122
18-Feb	18,076
18-Mar	24,375
18-Apr	24,302
18-May	24,465
18-Jun	19,550
18-Jul	18,107
18-Aug	20,371
18-Sep	20,468
18-Oct	22,925
18-Nov	21,436
18-Dec	18,491
19-Jan	18,686
19-Feb	23,536
19-Mar	30,673
19-Apr	31,680
19-May	36,895
19-Jun	30,172
19-Jul	23,881
19-Aug	21,913
19-Sep	21,518
19-Oct	22,840
19-Nov	21,210
19-Dec	21,035
20-Jan	21,364
20-Feb	22,397
20-Mar	23,960
20-Apr	14,754
20-May	19,648
20-Jun	27,652
20-Jul	34,121
20-Aug	41,676
20-Sep	47,207
20-Oct	59,711
20-Nov	60,522
20-Dec	62,041
21-Jan	62,562
21-Feb	69,091
21-Mar	97,089
21-Apr	108,502
21-May	117,960
21-Jun	113,521
21-Jul	105,405
21-Aug	98,123
21-Sep	108,758
21-Oct	104,932
21-Nov	109,991
21-Dec	109,461
22-Jan	108,851
22-Feb	122,226
22-Mar	163,237
22-Apr	154,565
22-May	158,784
22-Jun	133,399
22-Jul	125,980
22-Aug	131,476
22-Sep	151,479
23-Oct	146,735
23-Nov	145,073
23-Dec	149,346
23-Jan	94,650
23-Feb	94,460
23-Mar	118,551
23-Apr	126,304
23-May	116,914
23-Jun	61,535
23-Jul	62,442
23-Aug	74,416
23-Sep	102,582
23-Oct	93,668
23-Nov	96,478
23-Dec	135,593

Data table

CBP encounters with single adults

Combining Border Patrol apprehensions with port-of-entry encounters, December 2023 saw 164,907 migrants arrive as single adults, a 32 percent increase over November (125,332). Single adult migrants from Venezuela and Guatemala accounted for nearly two-thirds of the increase, while citizens of Mexico declined slightly.

Single Adult CBP (Border Patrol Plus Port of Entry) Migrant Encounters
by Country at the U.S.-Mexico Border

December 2023: Venezuela 21%, Mexico 17%, Guatemala 10%, Cuba 7%, Colombia 6.3%, Ecuador 5.7%, Honduras 5%, All Others <5%

Since October 2020: Mexico 42%, Guatemala 8.3%, Venezuela 8.1%, Cuba 7.04%, Honduras 6.96%, Nicaragua 5%, All Others <4%

	Mexico	Guatemala	Venezuela	Cuba	Honduras	Nicaragua	Colombia	Ecuador	El Salvador	Other Countries
20-Oct	42972	7386	59	1559	5468	214	23	1902	2148	529
20-Nov	40792	8066	94	1426	6617	334	53	2357	2882	510
20-Dec	36737	10032	96	1809	8190	514	70	3249	3113	726
21-Jan	37825	10084	144	1607	8112	484	54	3083	2681	1119
21-Feb	40948	11422	447	3149	8514	457	62	2882	2979	1102
21-Mar	57778	13962	1361	4543	11204	788	120	3589	3758	3013
21-Apr	60567	14900	3317	2607	13223	1246	162	4765	4554	6159
21-May	65038	15679	4235	2028	14599	2138	221	7687	5313	4705
21-Jun	58730	15548	4191	2349	14116	4160	264	7542	5346	5493
21-Jul	52863	12365	3166	2809	13639	8216	389	7241	4617	5530
21-Aug	49167	10822	3387	3524	11244	6266	736	7064	4028	7742
21-Sep	55364	11043	5544	3678	9345	4587	1155	4629	4217	13468
21-Oct	61409	10148	7130	4440	8261	6590	1476	578	4014	5023
21-Nov	58949	10851	10982	4763	8019	9661	1716	282	4058	6271
21-Dec	46943	12574	13119	6156	8344	11644	1872	399	4526	9746
22-Jan	56086	9103	13416	7647	6235	9140	2049	370	3497	6341
22-Feb	66987	11123	1929	12991	7421	10836	5100	401	4401	5891
22-Mar	82361	13537	2717	24705	8779	13086	9062	526	5008	10483
22-Apr	76414	13007	2751	26777	8755	10259	6967	837	5018	17412
22-May	70395	12499	3429	20449	8966	15625	9727	1258	4715	19607
22-Jun	60745	12356	9556	12511	9782	9272	6313	1332	4635	14108
22-Jul	49218	10976	12192	15125	9272	9965	6886	1100	4440	15396
22-Aug	52980	9401	18137	14003	8600	9822	6744	1286	3864	15841
22-Sep	55576	9179	24850	18719	7934	14909	6983	1776	3575	17880
22-Oct	56555	8597	14707	20747	7014	16922	8706	2069	3390	20670
22-Nov	48837	7548	4424	24756	6468	27434	7863	4340	2948	23740
22-Dec	36683	7840	4239	29648	6305	28691	8959	5712	2583	31770
23-Jan	51019	7474	5590	4386	6517	2644	5289	3714	2280	20405
23-Feb	55315	8572	3740	624	7053	508	7117	2984	3299	22783
23-Mar	66035	9050	5217	920	7693	337	9075	3333	4071	28576
23-Apr	54223	7579	20149	1167	8049	310	9361	3203	2923	34890
23-May	40311	7124	23620	2085	10777	509	10015	3273	3078	34326
23-Jun	30958	3955	10650	1954	5486	261	2301	2396	1514	21747
23-Jul	29822	4539	9752	2593	5240	286	3073	4094	1448	25639
23-Aug	31712	5937	15842	4457	5867	514	4604	5853	1609	25445
23-Sep	27906	5168	39481	7581	5849	1285	7303	7398	1640	28406
23-Oct	30525	4864	23045	8672	6081	2733	7789	6246	1487	31623
23-Nov	29601	7791	18165	9940	6088	3641	8449	7302	1616	32739
23-Dec	28293	16627	34418	11905	7956	7094	10357	9444	2058	36755

Data table

Hitting bottom

A January 2018 Washington Post feature on “The Golden Age of Conservative Magazines” hailed The American Conservative as “an unheeded voice in the face of indifferent or hostile elite opinion.” In 2012, New York Times columnist David Brooks called the publication “one of the more dynamic spots on the political Web.”

And now? Today, The American Conservative carried a piece just flat-out calling for sinking boats carrying refugees.

Contrary to consensus wisdom, mass migration can actually be easily deterred.

The powers that be should be willing to sink the boats in the Mediterranean, target the human traffickers and cartels in both North Africa and Latin America, target the financing and processing of migrants by NGOs and other entities willing to aid and abet mass migration, and mass-deport the millions who came illegally after 2015. It can be done. 

It is not done for two reasons. One, the post-1945 refugee convention and human rights laws, a relic of a different time, handicaps governments to take drastic actions. Two, the powers that be are ideologically aligned to promote mass-migration. To reverse that, there must be an overhaul of any post-1945 human rights framework and refugee conventions that opposes any deportation or martial action to deter migration. And there must be those willing to take action.

There’s even more, but you get the idea. The American right is on a hell of a journey.

Colombia’s Peace Process: Some Links from the Past Month

Negotiators from the government and the “Central General Staff” (EMC)—the group of FARC dissidents that rejected the peace accord before its 2016 signing—completed a third, ten-day round of negotiations on January 18. Commitments included a dissident pledge to cease recruiting minors, a government pledge to evaluate the situation of jailed EMC members, and steps toward a negotiating agenda that will include environmental issues. They also ratified earlier agreements to halt EMC kidnappings and to extend a bilateral ceasefire through July 15.

With support from the UN and OAS peace missions, four out of five regional offices for verification of the EMC ceasefire have now been established: in Arauca, Santander, Meta, and Putumayo.

At the UN Security Council’s quarterly review of peace accord implementation in Colombia, on January 11, the U.S. representative withheld—for now—U.S. government support for including EMC ceasefire verification within the UN peace mission’s mandate. “These agreements still lack maturity,” said U.S. Acting Deputy Permanent Representative Elisabeth Millard.

Citing “intelligence reports,” El Tiempo estimated that the EMC “has, counting all its structures, 3,480 people in arms.”

Representatives of the Security Council will visit Colombia in February, the UN body announced during its January 11 quarterly review of Colombia’s peace efforts.

Government and ELN negotiators are to hold a sixth round of talks in Cuba from January 22 to February 6. High Commissioner for Peace Otty Patiño repeated the government’s insistence that the current ceasefire, which must be renewed by January 29, include an end to ELN kidnappings and the release of all remaining guerrilla captives.

The government reportedly gave the ELN a list of 26 kidnapped people whose release it demands. Army Sgt. Libey Danilo Bravo, whose the ELN kidnapped in Arauca for three weeks last February and March, told La Silla Vacía that the guerrillas took him to a makeshift prison across the border in Venezuela that they called “Alcatraz,” where they were holding ten other people.

ELN leader Antonio García said that the group would require government financing to sustain itself if it were to suspend ransom kidnappings while peace talks continue. Patiño said that the government would only seriously consider financing if the ELN committed to the conflict’s end “in a decisive and clear way.”

Between December 4 and January 3, the think-tank CERAC counted three ELN offensive actions considered to be ceasefire violations: a homicide, a kidnapping, and an armed attack on a vehicle.

President Gustavo Petro met with Pope Francis on January 19; he requested that a future round of ELN peace talks take place at the Vatican.

Otty Patiño expanded his staff at the High Commissioner for Peace office from 13 to 149 people, a number closer to the staffing strength that existed during the government of Iván Duque (2018-2022).

On January 14 in Pitalito, Huila, José Enrique Roa Cruz became the third FARC ex-combatant to be killed in 2024 and at least the 411th since the former guerrilla group’s 2017 demobilization. The UN Verification mission counted 47 killings in 2023, the fewest since 2017.

The Petro government transferred 363 billion pesos (US$93 million) to the Presidency’s Implementation Unit, where it will go toward ex-combatant reintegration programs and the Territorially Focused Development Programs (PDET) foreseen in chapter 1 of the 2016 peace accord.

In addition to moving the ELN and EMC peace processes forward, in 2024 the Petro administration has big decisions to make about the future of talks with regional gangs, with the Segunda Marquetalia FARC dissident group, and with the Gulf Clan paramilitary structure, wrote Camilo Pardo and Cindy Morales at El Espectador. The Catholic Church’s representative to the peace process, Msgr. Héctor Fabio Henao, told El Espectador that no roadmap currently exists for eventual talks with the Segunda Marquetalia and the Gulf Clan.

“Colombia’s quest for ‘total peace’…has become a thorny path, with some progress, but slower than President Gustavo Petro had anticipated,” according to an Associated Press analysis.

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