August 15, 2022

Daisy Gonzalez-Perez

Cronkite News

More than 1.74 million migrants had been stopped at the southwest
border through June, breaking the record set through all of the last
fiscal year with three months still to go in this fiscal year.

The latest numbers from Customs and Border Protection show that while
apprehensions fell sharply from May to June, they were still above
200,000 for a fourth straight month. That pushed encounters in the first
nine months of fiscal 2022 past the previous record of 1.73 million
apprehensions through all of fiscal 2021.

Analysts said the numbers
may be misleading, because they do not represent individual migrants
but could include people who have tried to cross more than once and been
stopped each time.

But Republicans were quick to seize on the new data to attack the Biden administration over its border policies.

“Because of President Biden’s open-border policies and refusal to
enforce our immigration laws, there were 207,416 illegal migrant
encounters at our border in June,” Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, said in a tweet that used the trending hashtag #BidenBorderCrisis.

Apprehensions in the Tucson and Yuma sectors of the border followed
the overall trend, with the numbers lower between May and June, but
sharply higher for the year to date.

CBP said that apprehensions in Yuma jumped from 59,960 in the first
nine months of fiscal 2021 to 235,230 encounters through June of this
year, easily topping the annual record of 138,438 encounters that was
set in fiscal 2005.

Tucson encounters in the first three quarters of the year rose from
138,769 in fiscal 2021 to 195,112 this year. While sharply higher, that
was still well below the record of more than 600,000 migrants stopped in
the Tucson sector in fiscal 2000.

CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, the former Tucson police chief,
cautioned against reading too much into the numbers, saying that 26% of
those stopped at the border last month had been stopped at least one
previous time in the past 12 months. In a statement Friday, he put the actual number of individuals stopped at the border in June at 153,379.

Magnus also noted that total encounters fell 14%, from 240,991 in May
to 207,416 in June. But administration critics said that’s nothing to
brag about, given how high the overall numbers remain.

“We are averaging over 200,000 a month,” said Ira Mehlman,
spokesperson for the far-right Federation for American Immigration Reform, which wants to impose strict limits on even legal immigration. “June
numbers (are) down a bit, but bragging about 9.1% to 8.9% is not going
to please anybody.”

Mehlman said the numbers are “trending in the wrong direction” and
“there’s every expectation that the numbers are going to continue to
soar until this administration decides that it is going to exercise its
responsibilities and obligations to secure our borders and enforce our

The Southern Poverty Law Center includes FAIR on its list of “hate groups,” citing its stance opposing immigration of all types, and noting connections between the organization’s leadership and white supremacist groups.

An analyst with the Migration Policy Institute agreed that the number
of encounters will continue to rise and that they could top 2 million
for fiscal 2022. But Jessica Bolter also agreed with Magnus that 2
million encounters does not mean 2 million individuals.

“It’s very likely that the number of total encounters will surpass 2
million this fiscal year, but that won’t be representative of the number
of different people caught crossing the border,” Bolter said.

“Because these encounter numbers count events rather than
individuals, the number of unique individual people arriving and being
encountered by border patrol each month at the border is lower,” she

She said that only 1.3 million unique individuals tried to cross the
border in the first nine months of fiscal 2022, well below the 1.74
million encounters reported by CBP, which makes it “quite likely that it
(individual border crossers) will not” surpass 2 million for the year.

Gov. Doug Ducey may have unwittingly acknowledged what Bolter and Magnus were arguing, saying in a tweet Monday that “more than a quarter of those encounters were repeat offenders.”

Mehlman conceded that there may be double-counting of people in the encounter numbers, but he said they should not be ignored.

“These are the numbers that they’ve encountered,” Mehlman said. “We obviously don’t know how many people they didn’t encounter.”

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