Migrant numbers at the southern border in December have broken the record for monthly encounters, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources tell Fox News — just as U.S. and Mexico officials met this week and discussed the benefits of “regularizing” those in the country illegally.
Sources say there have been more than 276,000 migrant encounters in December so far, already making it the highest month on record.
The previous record was set in September when officials saw 269,735 encounters. The number includes illegal immigrants encountered between ports of entry and migrants entering at ports of entry via the CBP One app.
It means that since the new fiscal year began on Oct. 1., there have been more than 760,000 migrant encounters at the southern border, making the first quarter of FY 24 the highest quarter on record. Meanwhile, there have been 82,000 known getaways since Oct. 1. There were over 9,400 encounters in the last 24 hours, with over 8,000 resulting in a release with a Notice to Appear.
It caps a year at the southern border where multiple records have been repeatedly smashed, and where Border Patrol have consistently been overwhelmed by the numbers they are seeing.
Republicans have blamed the surge on the policies of the administration, including the ending of Trump-era policies, while the administration says it is dealing with a hemisphere-wide challenge and needs more funding and immigration reform legislation from Congress.
It has adopted a strategy of expanding “lawful” pathways for migration, cracking down on smugglers and increasing what it says are consequences for illegal entry. A DHS official told Fox this month that there have been 400,000 removals between May and the end of November — nearly the number of removals in all of FY19.
However, officials have also told lawmakers that they are releasing 5,000 illegal immigrants a day into the U.S., and that doesn’t include those being paroled in at ports of entry.
Currently the White House is requesting $14 billion in border funding as part of the emergency supplemental funding request, but that has stalled as Republicans demand additional restrictions on asylum and the government’s use of parole to stop the interior releases.
This week Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas were part of a U.S. delegation to Mexico City where they met with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
In the joint statement, the countries affirmed their commitments to “orderly, humane and regular migration” and stressed their efforts to tackle “root causes” of migration, disrupt human smuggling and promote private investment while also investing in “ambitious development programs” in the region.
But the statement also said that officials discussed the “benefits” of granting some form of legal status for illegal immigrants already in the U.S., including those protected by the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — an executive order signed by President Barack Obama, which shielded some illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors.
“The delegations also discussed the benefits of regularizing the situation of Hispanic migrants who have been undocumented for several years and the DACA beneficiaries, who are a vital part of the US economy and society,” the joint statement said, adding that the delegations will meet again in January.
That immediately drew criticism from Republicans, who warned that such moves would only exacerbate the crisis.
“At a time when America is experiencing the worst border crisis in our nation’s history, it is unconscionable to hear the Biden Administration’s announcement that Secretaries Mayorkas and Blinken discussed with the President of Mexico amnesty for illegal immigrants,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said. “The United States must focus on policies that deter — not attract — people attempting to come here illegally, and the smugglers who profit from the catastrophe at our border.”
“This development further demonstrates the Administration has no real intention of solving the humanitarian disaster and immediate national security crisis their policies have created. President Biden needs to stop vacationing and take immediate steps to stop the flow of illegal immigration into our country. Our nation’s security and sovereignty depend upon it, and the American people demand it,” he said.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.