’Predictable': Family units trying to enter U.S. illegally spiking due to Biden rule, experts say

Family units, who are arriving at the border at an all-time high, are exempt from a Department of Homeland Security rule prohibiting immigrants encountered between land ports of entry from seeking asylum.

Published: September 4, 2023 5:57am

Updated: September 4, 2023 9:55pm

The record number of "family units" attempting to cross into the U.S. at the border hit a record high at 91,000 in August, which immigration policy experts say was entirely predictable due to a Biden administration rule change. 

August is now the highest month this year for overall U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) migrant encounters, based on a report of preliminary agency data.

"Notwithstanding the administration’s claim that they are refusing to consider asylum claims from people encountered between ports of entry, the rule they adopted has huge loopholes. Among those explicitly exempted are family units," Ira Mehlman, a spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told Just the News on Friday. 

"So, guess what? We are seeing a surge in family units crossing the border illegally and it is not even clear if they really are family units. As we have seen in the past, there have been rent-a-kid schemes to help people take advantage of the laxer rules that apply to adults accompanied by children. The record number of family units encountered at the border was entirely predictable," the spokesperson added.

Since May, immigrants seeking asylum at the U.S. border have been able to request appointments, up to 1,450 per day, CPB says, with immigration officials using the CBP One smartphone application

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told Just the News that the immigrants who use the CBP One app to schedule appointments still have to make it to the border somehow.

"They still have to pay smugglers to get here and the whole thing is a boon for alien smugglers," he said. "It's supposed to only be for people who have made it to Mexico already and even that's bad enough, because you have to pay a smuggler to get there but the smugglers have figured it out. They're actually using it."

Krikorian also said the increase in family units was predictable due to the current DHS rules.

"I don't know what the administration thought was going to happen," he said. 

Those without appointments who are encountered in between land ports of entry are not permitted to claim asylum under current rules. However, the Biden administration has said that family units are exempt from that requirement, according to immigration policy experts.

CBP defines a family unit as a "group of two or more aliens consisting of a minor or minors accompanied by his/her/their adult parent(s) or legal guardian(s)."

The number of family units seeking entry to the U.S. were on the rise in July, according to CBP data. Family units encountered in July 2023 were 60,161, which was the highest monthly amount since December 2022.

The Washington Post reported that the amount of family units encountered at the border hit a record high in August, according to preliminary CBP data. CBP has not officially posted its operational update statistics for August online.

According to the Post's report, the U.S. Border Patrol "arrested at least 91,000 immigrants who crossed as part of a family group in August, exceeding the prior one-month record of 84,486 set in May 2019."

The latest statistics show that "families were the single largest demographic group crossing the border in August, surpassing single adults for the first time since Biden took office," the report read.

Border encounters have gone up more than 30% in July and August, based on the preliminary CBP data released by the Post. In August alone, 177,000 immigrants were encountered at the border.

The Post also noted that the Trump-era "Remain in Mexico" policy reduced the number of family units attempting to cross the border, given that immigrants had to wait in Mexico for their asylum hearings. The Biden administration ended that policy shortly after the president took office in 2021. He also closed 3 Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers after assuming office. 

DHS currently does not disclose to the public the total number of immigrants who are released into the U.S. after coming in contact with Border Patrol. 

"The only reason why ICE and OFO [Office of Field Operations] would refuse to disclose that information is to hide the fact that it is releasing more than 100,000 aliens per month into the United States, and to conceal the effects of those migrant releases on communities across the United States," said Andrew Arthur, who served for eight years as an immigration judge at the now-closed immigration court in York, Pennsylvania. Arthur is currently a resident fellow in law and policy for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.

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