(CNSNews.com) – The number of “encounters” with migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally at the southwest border, and coming from countries other than Mexico and the Northern Triangle, hit a new record high in December – 79,678 – more than ten times higher than the same month in each of the previous four years.
In December of 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017, the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encounters on the southwest border with migrants from all countries except Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador was 7,891, 7,504, 6,050, and 3,046, respectively.
In fact, just three months into fiscal year 2022, CBP apprehensions of migrants who are not from one of those four countries (188,193) is already approaching half of the number recorded for that cohort for the whole of FY 2021 (378,386) – and has well exceeded the figures for the whole of FY 2020 (53,615) and FY 2019 (116,760).
The headline figure in the data released by the CBP on Monday shows that total migrant encounters along the southwest border during December – irrespective of countries of origin – stood at 178,840, an increase of 141.6 percent from the same month in 2020, and up 340.8 percent from December 2019.
The total number of encounters on the U.S.-Mexico border involving all nationalities in just the first three months of FY 2022 (518,360) already exceeds the total annual figure for nine of the previous 12 fiscal years. The exceptions are 2018 (521,090), 2019 (977,509) and 2021 (1,734,686).
Mexico, predictably, accounted for the largest number of encounters along the southwest border last month – 51,285, compared to 39,370 in December 2020.
For the three northern triangle countries of Central America, the figures were: Guatemala 20,966 (up from 12,454 in Dec. 2020), Honduras 18,062 (up from 10,358 a year earlier), and El Salvador 8,849 (up from 3,921 in Dec. 2020).
But the sharply climbing figures for the “other than” countries are in themselves significant, given the Biden administration focus on addressing what it calls the “root causes” of illegal migration specifically in the northern triangle countries – corruption, violence, and “the worsening impacts of climate change.”
Countries accounting for large numbers of apprehensions during December 2021 included Venezuela, with 24,819 encounters (compared to just 206 in December 2020), Nicaragua with 15,298 (640 in Dec. 2020), Cuba with 7,983 (2,067 in Dec. 2020), Brazil with 7,924 (291 in Dec. 2020), and Haiti with 7,075 (237 in Dec. 2020).
Among the countries whose citizens were responsible for smaller numbers of migrant encounters in December 2021 – but still notable increases from the same month one year earlier – were Colombia with 4,094 (73 in Dec. 2020), Russia with 2,104 (53 in Dec. 2020), India with 1,142 (31 in Dec. 2020), Turkey with 566 (1 in Dec. 2020), Ukraine with 358 (6 in Dec. 2020) and China with 73 (15 in Dec. 2020).
Of the total 178,840 encounters in December, 44 percent of the individuals stopped were processed for expulsion under Title 42, the public health authority to expel migrants without a court hearing due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the CBP reported.
The other 56 percent were processed under Title 8, which “refers to the physical control or temporary detainment of a person who is not lawfully in the U.S. which may or may not result in an arrest.”
The CBP provides “encounter” figures rather than numbers of actual individuals apprehended along the border, because it says in many cases people who are stopped and sent back, try again.
Of the 178,840 encounters recorded in December and reported on Monday, 23 percent involved migrants who had been encountered at least once before over the previous 12-month period.