Migrant encounters at southern border hit new February record high

The number of migrant encounters at the southern border for February hit a new high for the month this year, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) figures released on Friday reveal, reversing a sharp drop in numbers in January.

There were 189,922 migrant encounters along the border in February. That’s higher than the 156,000 in the same month in 2023. The highest it had been for February was in 2022 when numbers reached 166,010.

Despite the record-high numbers overall, the number of illegal migrant encounters between ports of entry by Border Patrol is lower than in February 2022, meaning the new high is explained in part by large numbers coming to the ports of entry.

CBP processed more than 42,000 people through appointments at ports of entry via the controversial CBP One app, which it has been using to expand what it says are “lawful” migration pathways.

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Migrants are encountered by Border Patrol in the San Diego sector Feb. 17. (Fox News)

Numbers at the southern border had dropped from a record 302,000 in December to a relatively low 176,204 in January but had not continued to decline in February. The data show there have now been 70 people on the FBI terror watchlist arrested by Border Patrol in fiscal year 2024 so far, which began Oct. 1.

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In a statement, acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said the agency is working with domestic and foreign partners to enhance enforcement and is “aggressively targeting unscrupulous human smugglers and swiftly applying consequences against those who cross the border illegally and have no legal basis to remain in the United States.”

He pointed to increases in drugs seized by agents, including 294% more meth than in January. DHS also said it has now removed or returned nearly 600,000 individuals since May.

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The numbers come as the crisis at the southern border continues to dominate headlines and looks likely to be a top 2024 issue. Both President Biden and former President Trump visited the border last month as they presented their strategies for how to solve the crisis. Trump has promised to restore policies in place during his administration, including mass deportations, border wall construction and the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Biden has called on Congress to provide the Department of Homeland Security with more funding and reforms to fix what his administration has called a “broken” immigration system. He has called for the passage of a bipartisan Senate bill that has so far failed to pick up enough support to pass the chamber.

Fox News’ Bill Melugin and Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital, primarily covering immigration and border security.

He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.

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