January 20, 2023 8:03pm
Updated: January 21, 2023 7:16am
Authorities encountered 216,162 migrants at the southwest land border in December of last year, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
That figures marks an 11 percent increase in unique encounters from November of the same year. The federal agency attributed the surge to influx of Cuban and Nicaraguan individuals fleeing authoritarian regimes in those countries.
Cubans and Nicaraguans accounted for 77,043 of those encounters, roughly 36 percent of the total.
"[W]e are continuing to see a shifting migration pattern, with individuals from Mexico and northern Central America accounting for just 24% of unique encounters in December, a significant drop from the 42% they represented a year ago, as more migrants arrived from countries like Cuba and Nicaragua," CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said in a press release.
"This new migration challenge is not unique to the United States," he asserted. "There are 2.5 million Venezuelans now living in Colombia and 1.5 million in Peru; Brazil and Chile are hosting more than 350,000 Haitians, and the number of displaced Nicaraguans in Costa Rica has more than doubled in the last 12 months alone."
The Biden administration has been under intense scrutiny over its handling of migration at the Mexican border. More than 2.4 million migrants entered the U.S. in fiscal year 2022 alone and nearly 4 million have done so since President Joe Biden took office in 2021.
Miller indicated that the changing makeup of the migrants in terms of origin country indicated that some measures that the administration had implemented were working, in particular, reforms establishing lawful approaches for Venezuelan immigration.
Venezuelans arrivals have fallen to roughly 100 per day from the 1,100 daily arrivals from before the policy's announcement, the CBP press release asserted.
"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% from September 2022," Miller added.