U.S. Releases February Border Numbers

March 16, 2023
Big Bend, Texas

The new border enforcement measures kept February’s overall encounters nearly even with January.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Troy Miller on new data reflecting the number of people CBP encountered along the southwest border in February.

Big Picture: During February, CBP recorded 154,998 total encounters of people attempting entry into the U.S. along the southwest border, a 1% decrease from January (between and at Ports of Entry). Nearly half of people encountered were expelled under Title 42 – a provision re: public health safety (which is currently set to expire in May). Just more than half of people were processed under immigration law, Title 8, meaning they were either allowed to stay in the U.S. pursuing asylum, detained, or removed with no legal basis to remain. With the data for February, encounters for fiscal year 2023 (which runs Oct. 2022 – Sept. 2023) have now surpassed 1 million for the third year in a row (and for the third time in modern data collection).

  • Notable Increase: The number of unaccompanied children encountered (minors 17 and younger) increased by 16% from January to February, with 438 unaccompanied children in CBP custody each day during February. The number of people encountered from China increased by approx. 26%; The Wall Street Journal recently reported that "a growing number of Chinese have left their country amid anxiety over China's direction under leader Xi Jinping …"
  • CBP officials attribute the decrease in total encounters to the expanded parole process implemented in January for people from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba and Haiti. This process allows CBP to expel up to 30,000 people per month who come from these countries and attempt to enter the U.S. illegally. It also creates more legal pathways for up to 30,000 people per month from those four countries to enter the U.S., provided they complete an application process and meet certain eligibility requirements.

CBP Releases February 2023 Monthly Operational Update (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Interactive data chart showing encounters along the southwest border over the past few years

U.S.-Bound Migrants Surge at Darien Jungle Crossing in Panama (The Wall Street Journal)

by Jenna Lee,