The Biden administration just tallied the worst year in border security history, according to Homeland Security’s final numbers for fiscal year 2023, which showed record numbers of illegal immigrants, terrorism suspects and fentanyl detected.
Customs and Border Protection delivered the numbers in a highly unusual Saturday morning news release.
Border Patrol agents detected 2.1 million illegal immigrants, which was down slightly from 2020, when it reported 2.2 million. But the real action was at official ports of entry — land border crossings and, increasingly, airports, where officers encountered 1.1 million unauthorized migrants.
That’s double the rate of 2022, and it reflects Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s attempt to try to convince illegal immigrants to schedule their arrivals in order to be let in. He had said it would take pressure off the Border Patrol agents, who patrol the boundaries between the crossings, but the numbers suggest the overall flow of people continues to rise unabated.
Troy Miller, acting commissioner at CBP, insisted his agency is on top of things.
“CBP will continue to remain vigilant, making operational adjustments as necessary and enforcing consequences under U.S. immigration law,” he said in a statement announcing the grim new numbers.
The numbers cover the period from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023.
During that year, the border saw ebbs and flows as Mr. Miller and Mr. Mayorkas tried to fine-tune their policies. After a January reset the numbers dipped but quickly shot up again. The same thing repeated in May, with another reset, another lull and then a resurgence.
September ended with one of the worst single months on record, with the Border Patrol tallying 220,323 illegal immigrant apprehensions.
Officers at the ports of entry recorded another 121,069 encounters with inadmissible migrants, which is the second-worst month on record, just slightly trailing August by about 600 people.
Things were bad on several critical yardsticks.
CBP reported seizing 27,000 pounds of fentanyl, or nearly double last year’s record and more than five times the rate of 2020, the last year under President Trump.
Authorities believe that increases in seizures track with an increase in the overall flow, so if more are caught, it means more is getting through.
The terrorism suspect numbers are also deeply concerning at a time when worldwide threats are increasing.
Border Patrol agents detected 169 people at the southern border whose identities were flagged in the Terrorist Screening Data Set, better known as the government’s terrorist watchlist.
That’s more people in one year than the previous six years combined, which is as far back as the data goes.
By way of comparison, just 11 terrorism suspects were nabbed at the southern border during the entire Trump years.