2021 was record-breaking for a reason that should alarm the Biden administration. Some 2 million people were apprehended at the southern border aiming to gain entrance into the U.S. in the last calendar year. 

This is yet another example of an administration failing to get a grasp of a crisis-level immigration situation. The implications of lax border security and weak border policies are distressing for the American people, especially those along the border. From public health to public safety, the illegal migrant situation cannot be avoided any longer.

The Numbers

In December, some 170,186 illegal migrants were apprehended by U.S Customs and Border Protection (CPB) according to data released yesterday. This is disturbing because it’s the second month of increases at a time of the year when the numbers should be falling. It’s also a 119 percent increase from the prior record for December in 1999 of 76,196.

Here are some other statistics about border apprehensions:

  • 2,035,000 people were apprehended in the calendar year 2021
  • Half a million apprehensions (518,360) in the fiscal year 2022 already
  • 1.1 million single adults apprehended in 2021, 3x as many as in 2020 and 2019
  • Apprehensions are up 121 percent from 2019 and 272 percent from 2020

Public safety at risk

Spiking border apprehensions are only part of the problem. Drug cartels are exploiting our lax border security to traffic illegal substances into our nation. Heroin seizures were up 113 percent and cocaine seizures increased 28 percent reportedly. Meanwhile, methamphetamines and fentanyl seizures were down 59 and 51 percent, respectively.

The southern border may also fuel human smuggling and human trafficking. During the final week of National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the startling numbers of migrants apprehended and those who get away, underscore just how tragic the situation is.

President Biden said, “we reaffirm our commitment to protect and empower survivors of all forms of human trafficking, to prosecute traffickers, and to bring an end to human trafficking in the United States and around the world.” One powerful way he could reaffirm this commitment to fighting human trafficking is by strengthening protections at the southern border, turning migrants away, and reducing the incentives for traffickers to bring people here illegally.

Policy matters

The Biden administration touts its continued use of Title 42, the Trump-era pandemic measure that allows the U.S. to deny entry to migrants on public health grounds returning them to Mexico or their home country. Despite ill-advised calls by far-left progressives and pro-illegal immigration groups, the Biden administration has not buckled to pressure to end Title 42. 

In fact, the Justice Department is fighting to keep Title 42 in place. Vox reports that the DOJ “told a federal appeals court that the border restrictions known as the Title 42 policy, allowing the federal government to bar non-citizens entry into the US for health reasons, were necessary to protect public health.  In just one year, the Biden administration has used the policy to carry out more than 1 million expulsions of migrants arriving on the southern border…”

As I’ve written before, Title 42 is the floodgate holding back a wave of individuals from bypassing our traditional immigration process to jump the line by claiming asylum and gaining entrance. Despite keeping this policy in place, the administration only expelled 44 percent of December apprehensions via Title 42. That means many more people have gained entrance and will enter an already backlogged system.

Bottom Line

America is a welcoming nation and we want people to come here. We just expect that that do so through legal channels, not by abusing the system.

Granted, our immigration system is far from perfect. In many ways, it’s opaque, frustrating, and costly. Yet, a million people come to the U.S. legally through this system for education, work, and opportunity. We also give refuge to those fearing persecution.  

What’s happening at the southern border undermines these systems and makes the illegal and dangerous traverse to the southern border increasingly more attractive to those coming from around the world, not just Mexico or Central American countries.

The border also attracts those with sinister motives. Title 42 is a part of the solution, but it cannot be the only solution. It’s time for Washington to take the border more seriously.