Temperatures and Migrant Encounters Soar at the Border
FAIR Take | September 2023
The summer of 2023 has been relentless, especially at the border, and in more ways than one. The 36 counties that span the US border recorded their warmest July on record. In Phoenix, Arizona, there were average July daily temperatures of 102.8 degrees, and there were 31 consecutive days where temperatures reached highs of 110 degrees at some point in the day.
July also saw a spike in migrant encounters at the border. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics show that encounters of illegal aliens in July reached 245,286. Despite the Biden Administration’s boast that his post-Title 42 plan would bring order to the border, the dip in May and June numbers was short-lived, with a significant rebound in July. July encounters not only increased 16 percent over June encounters, but July’s figures were higher than for July last year (238,929). In the Tucson sector, some holding stations were so overwhelmed that male migrants were required to stand outside to ease overcrowding pressure inside.
Two notable trends stand out from the July numbers. The first is the surge in family units encountered at the border. The number of family units leapt from 72,731 in June to 101,851 in July—a 40 percent increase. In comparison, last year family unit encounters peaked in May and then remained relatively stable for the rest of the year. One reason for the surge may be that the Biden Administration has utterly failed to follow through with its promise, made as Title 42 came to a close, to impose consequences on family units illegally crossing into the U.S.
The second notable trend was the increase in migrants from China encountered by CBP. Between June and July 2023, the number of Chinese nationals encountered increased by over one-third from 4,601 to 6,163. Not only is this a sharp increase over the course of just one month, it would be nearly double the number of Chinese nationals that had been encountered at the start of 2023 (3,148). This shows that news of the open southern border has reached China, and an increasing number of their nationals have decided to make the crossing. No doubt, the sudden increase in nationals of a country with a hostile attitude to the U.S. will cause concern for many Americans.
Overall, the surge in encounters is disappointing, but not surprising. In the 30 months that the Biden administration has been in office, there have been 6.9 million encounters of illegal aliens at the border. In addition to this figure, an additional 1.7 million migrants entered the U.S. as “gotaways”, i.e., were observed entering the United States but were not detained or turned back. This brings the total number of migrants who have illegally entered the U.S. to 8.6 million people. By way of comparison, this is equivalent to the entire population of the state of Virginia, or over six times the number of active service personnel in the U.S. armed forces. These numbers are breathtaking.
However, it is not just at the hot and dusty desert crossings where the impact is being felt. As overwhelmed border communities bus migrants away, far from the border, cities like New York, Denver and Washington, D.C. have loudly advertised their sanctuary policies to the new arrivals. The word has clearly gotten out. The scale and speed of arrivals appear to have surprised even these cities. In New York City, migrants now outnumber Americans in the city’s homeless shelters for the first time ever. In Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock declared a state of emergency and it has been estimated by July 2023, 12,500 migrants had come to or through Denver. In Chicago, public meetings have often descended into anger as residents complain of the strain the scale of arrivals is placing on the city.
Even small communities are seeing surges in migrants. Unlike its larger namesake in Oregon, the town of Portland, Maine has just 68,000 people. But they too have been pushed to breaking by the suddenness and scale of migrant arrivals. City officials have already admitted that there has been a link between overwhelmed shelters and an uptick in crime. At one shelter alone, there were 680 calls to police, and local residents have complained of drug paraphernalia and a breakdown in public order. The sheer number of migrants suddenly arriving in this small town has stretched resources, forcing director of health and human services for the city, Kristen Dow, to concede “We just cannot guarantee shelter anymore”.
Despite the surge in numbers and the impact on American communities, there is little chance the numbers will decline. The Biden Administration has abandoned its duty to enforce existing immigration laws and has rolled out parole programs that make it even easier to illegally bring large numbers of migrants into the U.S. Thus, the only thing we can count on falling in fall is the leaves.