Data from US Customs and Border Protection shows federal law enforcement stopped 1,956,519 noncitizens attempting to enter the US via illegal crossings through the Canadian and Mexican borders, the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, or through visa overstays after arrival via a recognized air, land or sea port.
The same report indicates that the 1.66 million noncitizens were apprehended by Border Patrol officers: a near-century high. This is a marked increase from fiscal year 2020 where data shows officials logged 646,822 encounters.
The Biden administration's messaging on illegal immigration has been confusing and muddled at best, warning migrants "not to go" to the border, while also ending the practice of turning away children. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, told ABC News in an interview in March that "now is not the time to come," while stressing that the US was committed to "building safe, orderly and humane ways to address the needs of vulnerable children." In total, 146,925 unaccompanied children were encountered at the southern border, between the ports, and at the ports of entry more than doubling the previous record set in 2019.
Border Patrol noted 169,000 encounters in March and 173,000 in April as Biden eased border policies, including the so-called "Remain in Mexico" policy while it was challenged in the courts. That bid failed and the Biden Administration was ordered by the Supreme Court to reinstate the policy until further notice. Numbers continued to increase over the sweltering summer months: 170,000 encounters in May and June, 200,000 in July, and 195,000 in August before declining slightly to 192,000 at the end of the fiscal year in September.
The startling data prompted quick criticism from Republicans, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) blasting the Biden administration's handling of the southern border: "Despite the flashing red warning signs, President Biden and his appointed border czar, Vice President Harris, continue to think they can wish the situation away and pretend that they are powerless in the very crisis they created."