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Government data indicates sizable drop in migrant encounters

The expiration of Title 42 was expected by many to cause a spike in migrant encounters. CBP officials noted the opposite.
Government data indicates sizable drop in migrant encounters
Posted at 9:16 AM, Jun 21, 2023

In the days following the expiration of Title 42, the number of migrants U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents encountered at the U.S.- Mexico border dropped, according to new data from the agency. 

Title 42, which was put in place during the pandemic by then-President Donald Trump in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, expired May 12.

As part of its monthly update, CBP said it had 98,850 encounters outside of ports of entry May 1-11. As Title 42 expired, CBP said there were 70,394 such encounters for the rest of the month. 

On average, in the first 11 days of May, CBP encountered 8,986 migrants outside of ports of entry. For the last 20 days of the month, that figure dropped to 3,519.

“As a result of comprehensive planning and preparation efforts, there has been a significant reduction in encounters along the Southwest border since the return to full Title 8 immigration enforcement on May 12. As we continue to execute our plans — including delivering strengthened consequences for those who cross unlawfully while expanding access to lawful pathways and processes — we will continue to monitor changes in encounter trends and adjust our response as necessary,” said acting CBP Commissioner Troy A. Miller.

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CBP said that those who do not establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed and are subject to a minimum five-year ban on reentry. 

In hopes of managing the flow of migrants coming to the border, the Biden administration launched the CBP One app that essentially requires most migrants to book an appointment to present themselves for asylum. CBP said it encountered 28,696 migrants who used the CBP One app at points of entry. That figure includes inadmissible noncitizens.

The new rules requiring the use of the app have been blasted by both Republicans who say they don’t go far enough and immigration advocates who say they go too far.

"President Biden just ushered in a new period of immense suffering for people already enduring violence and persecution," said Jonathan Blazer, director of border strategies at the ACLU. "He has closed off the possibility of asylum in the United States to the majority of people seeking safety — in contradiction with our nation’s laws and values. In doing so, he is finishing Trump’s job rather than fulfilling his own campaign promises."

Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee tweeted in May: "President Biden's priorities are clear, and sadly, border security is not one of them." 

Between encounters at points of entry and not at points of entry, CBP said overall border encounters were down 15% last month compared to May 2022. 

The change in immigration posture at the border coincided with the U.S. ending its COVID-19 emergency last month that had been in place since March 2020. Within Title 42 was a part that dictated quarantines and inspections. There is a law within Title 42 that gives the Surgeon General the ability to suspend imports and inspections to prevent the spread of diseases. 

Title 8 is what governs things like immigration, border security, civil rights, ownership of land, and so on. Bills that Congress may pass involving these subjects could be placed somewhere within Title 8. 

U.S. Code 1158 within Title 8 might be of particular interest when looking at current U.S. immigration law. This is the section of the law that determines how migrants can obtain asylum in the U.S. The law broadly states that a person in the U.S., no matter how they entered, can make an asylum claim. The migrant has up to a year to make the asylum request. 

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