December 2023 Marks Yet Another Record For Border Encounters

In a typical late-Friday document drop, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported a record-breaking number of migrant encounters at the southwest border in December 2023. The startling figure of over 302,000 southwest border encounters in a single month has escalated concerns regarding national security and immigration policies. This surge in encounters on the southern border is coupled with an overall nationwide record of more than 371,000 encounters.

Last month marked the first time in American history that the number of migrant encounters at the southern border exceeded 300,000, surpassing the previous high of 269,700 recorded in September 2023.

Joe Biden has finally been forced to at least begin to acknowledge the severity of the situation, and he referred to the ongoing events as a “border crisis” on Friday. He called for bipartisan cooperation in Congress to address the issue effectively, even though he has not provided concrete plans to enforce the laws that have already long been on the books.

Several GOP leaders have expressed sharp criticism, skepticism, and concern over Biden’s pretense of having any intention to stem the tide of illegal migration. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), for instance, questioned the transparency of the administration’s approach to border security, pointing to the secrecy and obscure posturing about any proposals to take action.

The implications of these high encounter rates are far-reaching. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens highlighted the arrest of two child molesters attempting to re-enter the U.S. illegally, illustrating the potential risks to public safety. Furthermore, the Drug Enforcement Administration has pointed out the significant role of the Sinaloa and Jalisco Cartels in smuggling dangerous drugs like fentanyl across the border, emphasizing the link between border security and national health concerns.

House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green (R-TN) has been particularly vocal, advocating for the impeachment of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Green’s stance reflects a broader sentiment among Republicans that the current border situation is a result of intentional policy decisions by the Biden administration, which they claim have effectively opened U.S. borders.

The CBP report also raised security concerns with the arrest of 19 individuals on the terror watch list in December, already bringing the total for the first three months of the fiscal year to 50.

Against this backdrop, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) criticized Biden for failing to defend the country against what she termed an “invasion.” Her comments resonate with many Americans who view border security as a paramount issue. Noem’s support for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) border security measures, including the deployment of razor wire and other barriers, reflects a growing trend among states to take border security into their own hands in response to federal inaction and disregard of the immigration laws passed by Congress.