Border Card

November 17, 2021

New Year:
New Numbers

The government releases its first report on the number of people attempting entry along the U.S. Southwest border for fiscal year 2022 (October 2021 – September 2022).

The Numbers: October 2021

  • Overall: A decrease from previous months.
  • 164,303 total encounters; 29% of people had at least one previous encounter within the last 12 months (repeat offenders).
  • Those “encountered” included: 108,500+ single adults, 12,800+ unaccompanied children, 42,700+ family unit individuals.
  • Though a decrease from Sept., the number of individuals attempting entry along the U.S. Southwest border is still more than double what it was last year at the same time.

Context Matters:

  • Border encounters have decreased since a record-setting 213,000+ in July. However, monthly data still marks historic highs.
  • At the beginning of the govt.’s fiscal year for 2021 (Oct. 2020), numbers slightly increased after the pandemic had closed the border for most of 2020. A notable jump happened between January and February, and numbers continued to climb until July.
  • The year ended in Sept. w/the highest annual number of encounters ever recorded (1.7M+).

Something To Consider:

  • During October, more than half of all people encountered along the Southwest border were expelled under a public health safety provision during the pandemic (Title 42).
  • Customs and Border Protection continues to emphasize that the large number of individuals expelled during the pandemic has led to a “higher-than-usual” number of people attempting entry multiple times.
  • “Encounters” don’t represent unique individuals, but new attempts to cross the border.

New research by the Pew Research Center on the U.S. Southwest border provides some other important insights besides simply the historically high numbers of encounters. One takeaway? The number of people coming from non-traditional countries (Brazil, Ecuador, Haiti, Cuba, etc.) has notably increased. Read the rest of the research on our source page – it’s a five-minute read chock-full of perspective.

What’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border in 7 charts (Pew Research Center)

CBP Releases October 2021 Monthly Operational Update

Southwest Land Border Encounters (An interactive chart from U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

by Jenna Lee,