Arrests At Border Will Set New Record In 2022—Driven By Surge From Distant Countries

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Arrests at the southern border will set new records this year, a trend partly fueled by a massive surge in migration from impoverished parts of Central and South America as more people travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to the fringes of the United States .

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Important facts

Border Patrol arrested 1.998 million people at the U.S.-Mexico border from October through August, already surpassing the 1.659 million arrested for all of fiscal 2021, which was the agency’s busiest year on record.

Most years, the vast majority of Border Patrol arrests are citizens of four countries fairly close to the US border – Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – but so far this year those nations make up less than 60% from overall arrests, down from 78% in 2021, 89% in 2020 and well over 90% in the previous decade.

That means a growing proportion of migrants arrested are from countries in the Caribbean, further south in America and even India, Turkey, Romania and Russia.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus blamed “failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba” for causing the spate of crossings, according to a statement released Monday night with data on August border arrests.

So far this year, about 9.7% of those arrested at the southern border have been Cuban citizens, far up from the 2.3% recorded last year, making Cuba a more common source of arrested migrants than either El Salvador or Honduras.

Citizens of Venezuela (7.7% of arrests this year versus 2.9% last year), Nicaragua (7.3% versus 3%) and Colombia (5.5% versus 0.4%) are also becoming more common.

The proportion of those arrested from Haiti has fallen from 2.7% last year – when thousands of Haitian migrants are known to have crossed the Rio Grande into a Texas city in a matter of weeks – to 1.4% this year, but is still significantly higher the pre-2021 level.

Big number

181,160. That’s the total number of arrests made by border police at the US-Mexico border over the past month, according to figures released Monday afternoon. It’s a slight decrease from August 2021, when border police arrested nearly 200,000 people.

Surprising fact

Migrants from outside the western hemisphere are relatively rare, but some countries in Europe and Asia have seen increases. Some 16,219 Indian nationals have been arrested at the border this year, up from 2,555 last year, and arrests from Turkey (13,729), Romania (5,621) and Russia (4,503) also jumped last year.

key background

Arrests on the southern border have remained high since early 2021, a trend that has strained resources and made immigration a political flashpoint. Mexico is still the most common country of origin, accounting for 34.2% of all arrests this year and 36.6% of all arrests last year, but the sharp rise in migration from distant lands is notable given the long, arduous and arduous journey is often dangerous. The exact reasons for migration vary from country to country. Many Haitian migrants moved to South America after the country’s brutal earthquake in 2010, but were pushed further north due to discrimination and poverty, while economic collapse sparked a refugee crisis in Venezuela, and political repression and poor economic prospects prompted migration from Cuba and Nicaragua fueled In smaller numbers, Indian citizens have sometimes cited religious persecution as a motivation for traveling to the US border, and some Romanians arrested at the southern border belong to the long-persecuted Roma ethnic group. After being arrested at the border, many people seek asylum due to persecution, a challenging and time-consuming process. Adult migrants from Mexico and Central America are often returned to the other side of the border within hours of being arrested under a pandemic-era policy known as Title 42, but deportations to Venezuela and Cuba are rare due to poor diplomatic relations with those countries’ governments the countries.


The Biden administration has argued that poverty and violence in Central America have led to a spike in border arrests, but Republicans have blamed President Joe Biden’s push to reverse Trump-era tough immigration policies. Texas and Arizona GOP governors have brought thousands of migrants to New York and DC in recent months, and last week Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) flew dozens of Venezuelan migrants from Texas to the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, a move Critics derided as an inhumane political stunt.

What to look out for

Migration from distant countries could remain high in the coming months. In August, just over 31,000 migrants crossed the Darién Gap, a dangerous roadless jungle separating Colombia and Panama, up from around 25,000 in August 2021, according to the Panamanian government. More than two-thirds of last month’s total were from Venezuela.

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