August Border Data

September 16, 2021


A rising number of families attempt entry along the U.S. southwest border during an already-historic year.
What To Know & Why It Matters.

Important To Note

  • U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) uses the word “encounters” in its monthly report. This umbrella term refers to anyone CBP confronted at the border.
  • This includes many different scenarios, such as an individual trying to cross the border illegally, trying to apply for asylum, or immediately expelled under a public safety policy (commonly referred to as Title 42).
  • Not all “encounters” lead to arrests, detentions, or expulsions, but some do.

The Numbers: August 2021

  • 208,887 total “encounters” along the U.S. southern border, a 2% decrease from July. It’s the 2nd-highest monthly figure seen in at least 20+ years.
  • 25% of people had a previous “encounter” within the last year. For context, this is higher than normal. CBP says more “re-encounters” (people expelled and returning) are due *in part* to the “large number of expulsions during the pandemic.”
  • Nearly 45%, or 93,000+ people, expelled under Title 42 (public health provision).

Behind The Numbers

  • Single Adults: The largest group attempting entry (103,000+), making up nearly 50% of total “encounters” in August – a 7% decrease from July. 75% expelled under Title 42.
  • Family unit individuals (86,400+) made up almost 42% of “encounters,” a 4% increase from the # of families “encountered” in July. 19% of families were expelled under Title 42.
  • Unaccompanied children (18,800+) decreased by 1% from July. Unaccompanied children are generally not expelled and are taken into the custody of the U.S. gov’t.

Big Picture

  • History-Making: The total number of people encountered at the border this fiscal year is at the highest level we’ve seen in at least 2 decades.
  • The Trend: The numbers of family units and unaccompanied children (17 and younger) remain at historic levels – notable because minors & family units have a higher probability of avoiding expulsion.
  • Perspective: While CBP reports a high number of expulsions, more than 50% of those encountered last month remained stateside (for now).

The U.S. government has started expelling people by plane to Mexico and prosecuting repeat offenders who have previously been expelled for crossing the border illegally. The elements – the heat and the terrain – create another challenge for law enforcement during the summer months. CBP deployed rescue beacons “intended to save lives … equipped with lights and signage, making it visible to lost and distressed subjects from a distance.” See what one looks like on our source page.

Rescue Beacons

CBP Releases August 2021 Operational Update

Southwest Land Border Encounters (Interactive data chart)

U.S. Border Patrol Monthly Apprehensions (2000 – 2019)

Click HERE to read CBP’s local media release published on August 26, 2021, Edinburg, Texas

by Jenna Lee,