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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- December 2023 Set a New U.S.-Mexico Border Monthly Migration Record
- Unusual: Even as Migration Drops Along the U.S.-Bound Route, It Jumps at the Border
- Migration at the U.S.-Mexico Border Dropped 11 Percent from September to October
- Venezuela Was the Number-One Nationality of Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border in September
- Nationalities of Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border, June Through August
- Charts: U.S.-Mexico Border Migrant Encounters Since October 2020