September Border Data

October 20, 2021


The final piece of the puzzle.
The U.S. releases new numbers on the Southwest border, completing a year's worth of data reflecting "the highest number ever" recorded of people "encountered" at a key crossing.
Here's The Latest.

Why A Full Year Of Data Now?

  • The government’s fiscal year (for the border data and beyond) is October – September.
  • Customs and Border Protection released September’s data – and with it, we now have a snapshot for the month as well as the bigger picture for the year.
  • The total number of people “encountered” along the Southwest border during the govt.’s fiscal year (Oct. – Sept.): an annual record of over 1.7M total “encounters” – the most ever recorded.

Important Context

  • Under the Biden administration, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) uses the umbrella term “encounters” in its monthly report.
  • This includes many different scenarios “encountered” by Border Patrol – such as an individual trying to cross the border illegally, allowed to stay pending pursuit of asylum, or being immediately expelled under a provision re: public health safety during a pandemic (commonly referred to as Title 42).
  • Not all “encounters” lead to arrests, detentions, or expulsions, but some do.

The Numbers: Sept. 2021

  • 192,001 total “encounters” along the U.S. Southwest border, the third-highest monthly number in modern data collection.
  • 26% of people had a previous “encounter” within the last year. This “re-encounter rate” is higher than usual. CBP emphasized “re-encounters” are due *in part* to the “large number of expulsions during the pandemic.”
  • 53% of total “encounters” were expelled under Title 42 (provision re: public health safety during a pandemic).

Behind The Numbers

Here’s the breakdown for the 192,000+ “encounters” in September:

  • Single Adults: The majority (59% or 113,000+) – an increase from August, and continually the largest demographic “encountered.”
  • Family Units: 34% (64,000+) – a decrease from August.
  • Unaccompanied Children: 7% or 14,000+ – a decrease from August, but a 270% increase from Sept. 2020, & a 305% increase from Sept. 2019 (the most recent record-setting year).
"I've never seen it as bad as what it is right now."

Brandon Judd, president of the union that represents Border Patrol agents, tells NPR, “We just don’t have the manpower and resources to do what we need to do …” Meanwhile, one immigration analyst tells the Wall Street Journal that expulsions under a pandemic-era policy used by both the Trump and Biden administrations do not function as a deterrent but may do the opposite – incentivize people to attempt entering illegally, because *if caught* there are no significant penalties; they are simply expelled and able to try again.

Why Such High Numbers Now?

Different theories depending on whom you talk to. Here’s one summary that captures multiple angles by the Wall Street Journal:

“A confluence of events” – “economic collapse across Latin America … Gang violence, autocratic crackdowns in several countries and extreme weather events—droughts in some regions, flooding in others—pushed people to leave just as a new U.S. president took office with what was widely perceived as a welcoming tone.”

CBP Releases September 2021 Monthly Operational Update

Southwest Land Border Encounters (CBP’s Statistics By Month)

Click HERE to read SmartHER News’ card stack on August’s data, and HERE for July’s

by Jenna Lee,