Venezuelans topped Mexicans for the largest group of nationals arrested for illegally crossing the U.S. southern border for the first time on record in the month of September.
According to its latest monthly report released Saturday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded 218,763 encounters of people from all nationalities between ports of entry along the southwest border in September 2023, representing a 21% increase from the 181,084 illegal immigrants caught in August.
Venezuelans were arrested 54,833 times by the Border Patrol after entering from Mexico in September, more than double from 22,090 arrests in August and well above the previous monthly high of 33,749 arrests in September 2022. For decades, Mexicans accounted for the vast majority of illegal crossings but flows shifted over the last decade to Central Americans and, more recently, to people from South America, Africa and Asia.
Mexicans were arrested 39,733 times crossing the border in September, well behind Venezuelans. Guatemalans, Hondurans and Colombians rounded out the top five.
The Biden administration recently announced temporary legal status for nearly 500,000 Venezuelans who were already in the United States on July 31, while vowing to deport those who come illegally after that date and fail to get asylum. It recently began deportation flights to Venezuela as part of a diplomatic thaw with the government of Nicolás Maduro, a longtime adversary. The U.S. “surged resources and personnel” to the border in September, said Troy Miller, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.
“We are continually engaging with domestic and foreign partners to address historic hemispheric migration, including large migrant groups traveling on freight trains, and to enforce consequence, including by preparing for direct repatriations to Venezuela,” Miller said.
CBP recorded 53,296 encounters involving Mexican nationals along the southwest land border, down from the 55,493 Mexican migrants in August 2023, and the 63,431 in September 2022. That includes both people apprehended crossing illegally and those processed at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border.
There were 4,042 encounters of Chinese nationals along the southwest land border in September, compared to the 2,379 in August.
In September 2022, there were just 399 encounters involving Chinese nationals.
CBP recorded 1,779 encounters of Russian nationals in September, down from the 2,099 in August. In September 2022, there were 2,617 encounters of Russians on the southwest border.
So far this year, there have been nearly 2.5 million encounters along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the CBP statistics, and about 1.5 million of those people were single adults.
September’s total approached the all-time high of 222,018 encounters recorded in December 2022, according to CBP. Arrests for the government’s budget year that ended Sept. 30 topped 2 million for the second year in a row, down 7% from an all-time high of more than 2.2 million arrests in the same period a year earlier, according to the Associated Press.
About 43,000 migrants entered the country at land crossings with Mexico in September using a mobile app called CBP One, bringing the total to nearly 278,000 since the online appointment system began in January. Also, more than 265,000 people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela entered through September at airports after applying online with financial sponsors. Including those pathways, the number of crossings hit a new all-time monthly high of 269,735 in September and a new budget-year high of nearly 2.5 million.
The Biden administration proposed about $14 billion for the border in a $106 billion spending package announced Friday.
Border officials arrested 18 people on the FBI’s terror watchlist in September, making fiscal year 2023 a record year for such encounters at the southern border.
According to CBP statistics released Saturday, 169 people on the FBI terror watchlist were encountered between ports of entry at the southern border in the past 12 months, a number that exceeds not only FY 22’s record-setting total (98) but the last six fiscal years combined.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Bill Melugin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.