Homeland Security saw 304,162 unauthorized migrants enter the country in August alone, breaking the previous monthly record and heightening the challenges confronting the Biden administration.
That includes roughly 181,000 illegal immigrants nabbed by Border Patrol agents at the southern border, up more than 36% compared to July.
But the bigger action is at the official ports of entry, where the Biden administration has set up several programs to welcome unauthorized migrants as long as they schedule their arrivals. The ports of entry reported 121,781 encounters with unauthorized migrants in August.
More than 50,000 of those arrived at airports and seaports, bypassing the southern border altogether and showing up deeper inside the U.S. where they quickly dispersed.
The previous monthly high for total illegal border encounters was set in December when authorities detected 302,412 migrants. By contrast, under the Trump administration in August 2020 the number was 65,707, or less than a quarter of what President Biden saw last month.
The numbers mark the latest embarrassment for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who just a few months ago took a victory lap as numbers at the southern border dipped. He said policies he’d put in place to prepare for the end of the pandemic emergency were working to tamp down on the flow of people.
They have come roaring back.
Central Americans rushed into the U.S. at their highest level in two years, with nearly 80,000 unauthorized migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala detected.
More than 37,000 Venezuelans were also encountered by Customs and Border Protection agents and officers.
Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller took a positive approach to the grim figures.
“CBP remains vigilant in the face of ruthless smugglers and transnational criminal organizations who exploit vulnerable migrants, the same criminal organizations trafficking in lethal drugs that harm our communities,” he said.
He said the agency’s “operational tempo” had increased and said they made a record use of a speedy deportation power, known as expedited removal.
But based on past months, it’s likely the majority of the newcomers were caught and released.
Rep. Mark Green, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the surge was inevitable given Mr. Mayorkas’s resistance to the kinds of get-tough policies that would work.
“No amount of spin can change the fact that the American people are suffering the worst border crisis in our nation’s history. In fact, Secretary Mayorkas’ open-borders policies are actively undermining our homeland security and jeopardizing the safety of every American,” the congressman said.
Mr. Green also said the record numbers of people represent major profits for the cartels Mr. Mayorkas and Mr. Miller said they are trying to combat.
The Homeland Security Committee is leading an inquiry into Mr. Mayorkas’s record with an eye toward potential impeachment proceedings against the secretary.