by Bethany Blankley
At least 225,797 people were apprehended entering the U.S. illegally nationwide in December, according to official U.S. Customs and Border Protection data released late Friday.
Combining official apprehension data with preliminary Border Patrol reported gotaway data obtained by The Center Square – a record 87,631 in gotaways – December numbers total at least 313,428, another record.
December’s total was greater than November’s record-breaking total of at least 306,069.
Some of those who were apprehended attempting to enter the southern border illegally did so more than once in the past 12 months, bringing total encounters to 251,487 in December, CBP reported.
Official data published by CBP excludes data reported about gotaways, those who are categorized as individuals who are documented to have evaded capture by law enforcement and didn’t return to Mexico or Canada.
The monthly gotaway data reported by The Center Square comes from nine out of 20 sectors and excludes Office of Field Operations data. It excludes record gotaway data from norther border sectors including Vermont, for example, which has reported record numbers over the past few months as foreign nationals fly to Canada attempting to enter through bordering upstate New York and New England states, Border Patrol agents have told The Center Square.
CBP released the numbers on Jan. 20, two years to the day President Joe Biden was sworn into office. The National Border Patrol Council, the union representing Border Patrol agents, tweeted its disdain for the current administration, saying, “Two years ago today our border was turned over to cartel thugs and the worst period of lawlessness and illegal immigration in our history began.”
In several tweets, the union reiterated that the Mexican cartels control the U.S. southern border. It also criticized Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Biden dubbed the “border czar.” Harris has visited the southern border once while she’s been in office while Biden visited the border for the first time earlier this month. While in Houston last year, the primary destination of cartel trafficking in Texas, Harris said the border was secure more than once on national television.
Publishing a photo of Harris, the NBPC tweeted, “If you were given a job 2 years ago with the explicit goal of reducing illegal immigration, and then you sit around and do nothing while illegal immigration explodes to levels never seen before, you should be fired and replaced. Period.”
According to CBP data, the number of unique individuals encountered nationwide in December was 225,797, representing a 10 percent increase from November.
The 251,487 encounters along the southwest land border in December represented a 7 percent increase from November. Among them, 14 percent involved individuals who attempted to enter the U.S. illegally at least once in the past 12 months.
Nearly two-thirds, 64 percent, of all southwest land border encounters were single adults, CBP reported, totaling 161,808 encounters in December, a 2.3 percent increase from November.
About 20 percent of total illegal entries were processed for expulsion under Title 42.
Encounters with family unit individuals also increased in December, by 22 percent from November; unaccompanied children encounters decreased by 6.4 percent, CBP said.
CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine Operations agents apprehended record amounts of drugs in December, by weight an overall increase of 17.5 percent from November. Seizures by weight of cocaine and heroin increased by 32 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Meth seizures decreased by 4 percent. Fentanyl seizures increased by a record 52 percent.
In contradiction to the NBPC’s view, CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said, “The December update shows our new border enforcement measures are working. Even as overall encounters rose because of smugglers spreading misinformation around the court-ordered lifting of the Title 42 public health order, we continued to see a sharp decline in the number of Venezuelans unlawfully crossing our southwest border, down 82 percent from September 2022.”
He added that “early data suggests the expanded measures for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans are having a similar impact.”
Also not reported by CBP were sector apprehensions previously reported by The Center Square, which show that Texas sectors continue to be hit the hardest.
In December, BP agents in the El Paso Sector apprehended approximately 55,766 people and reported at least 32,632 gotaways; Del Rio Sector agents apprehended 51,497 people and reported at least 18,639 gotaways; Rio Grande Valley Sector agents apprehended 29,471 people and reported at least 2,974 gotaways.
Of the nine southern border sectors, Texas’ five sectors reported the greatest number of apprehensions and gotaways of nearly 1.8 million in fiscal 2022, the most in recorded U.S. history.
California and Arizona BP agents also reported record numbers of over 300,000 and over 800,000, respectively, in fiscal 2022.
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Bethany Blankley is a regular contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Illegal Immigrants” by Chief Patrol Agent Chris T. Clem.