Migrant Encounters Skyrockets 80 percent under Biden Administration

southern border
The Mexican-American border, with some construction still ongoing on the American side. (Greg Bulla/Unsplash)

January 12, 2023

This article appears in Vol III Issue I: Republics

In 1965, the Hart-Cellar Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, American Pigeon previously reported. It effectively opened up immigration to South American countries, Eastern Europeans, and Asians. Prior to that time, immigration was predominantly allowed from Northwestern Europe to preserve American homogeneity; but with the advent of the Civil Rights Movement, such policies were seen as racist.

We are two years into the Biden administration when data on immigration can be put into much needed context. The end of 2020 saw an uptick in immigration incentivized by hope that the worst of COVID-19 will be put behind us and the southern border will once again be opened.

From 2021 to 2022, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has encountered 4,113,630 migrants from countries like Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Compared with the 458,088 migrants encountered in 2020, this marks an 80 percent increase under the Biden administration, according to recent CBP data.

Title 42 is now making headlines as it remains the last defense for an overwhelmed border. Title 42 is a health policy, not an immigration policy, enforced by the Border Patrol that gives the government discretion to stop migrants from entering the country in an effort to keep diseases out. Under Trump, it was used indiscriminately to block migrants seeking asylum, according to The New York Post.

(READ MORE: Foreign Born U.S. Population Reaches 47 Million as Over 1 Million Illegal Immigrants Settled in the U.S. Since 2021)

President Biden kept the law in place but changed an important aspect. Rather than enforce the policy on all migrants entering the country, migrants could only be turned away if they have a criminal record and are from a “non-asylum” country. But the law has become complicated to enforce as the Biden administration can make or change the list of who is welcome at its whim.

When thousands of Venezuelan immigrants were reportedly fleeing their country, President Biden added the country to its growing approval list, joining Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Cuba and Nicaragua. In a show of stronger immigration law than the United States, Mexico is not under obligation to take in migrants, which reportedly further complicates Title 42.

The Department of Homeland Security states that with the policy’s end, there may be an additional 18,000 migrants crossing the southern border.

What has caused the influx?

On his way to the White House, President Biden encouraged immigrants to “surge to the border.” In the last two years, Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy was terminated, expulsions under Title 42 drastically slowed, and the construction of the wall was halted.


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