Most states have seen increase in illegal immigration 'encounters'

Migrants wait outside the former Roosevelt Hotel in New York City on August 1. The former hotel, which is the city's largest intake center for migrants, was filled to capacity and migrants were being forced to sleep on the sidewalk. File Photo by Sarah Yenesel/EPA-EFE
1 of 5 | Migrants wait outside the former Roosevelt Hotel in New York City on August 1. The former hotel, which is the city's largest intake center for migrants, was filled to capacity and migrants were being forced to sleep on the sidewalk. File Photo by Sarah Yenesel/EPA-EFE

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- "Every state is now a border state."

That is the claim that Republicans have made in response to immigration enforcement under the administration of President Joe Biden. It was repeated again by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., on the primary debate stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., last week.


While the statement is not literal, data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows that the increase in illegal immigration is touching states beyond the southern border.

The politics around immigration have taken the blame for the increase, but the agency says it is driven by transnational criminal organizations such as the drug cartels.

"CBP remains vigilant in the face of ruthless smugglers and transnational criminal organizations who exploit vulnerable migrants, the same criminal organizations trafficking in lethal drugs that harm our communities," Troy Miller, senior official performing the duties of the commissioner, said in a statement.


The agency reports 2.86 million encounters with migrants between ports of entry since last October. The data is compiled year-to-year from October through September. For the year ending in September 2022, there were 2.76 million encounters. There were about 1.95 million in 2021 and 648,822 in 2020.

There were 304,162 encounters in August, up from 245,213 in July. It was the highest single month total in the last four years, which is as far back as the data shared by the agency goes.

These figures do not include "got aways," meaning people who illegally crossed the border but were not directly encountered by border agents.

The concern when Title 42 came to an end in May was that it would inspire a heavy surge of illegal immigration. Yet there were more encounters in April (276,055) and May (275,188) than in June (211,514) or July (245,213). The average per month in June through August is 256,629, which is 6,803 more than the average of the last three months when Title 42 was fully in effect.

New York influx

New York is one of the northernmost states to experience an influx of people who have immigrated to the United States illegally. Gov. Kathy Hochul has requested assistance from the president. Her requests include expedited work authorization for asylum seekers, financial assistance and reimbursement for the use of the state's National Guard.


There has been a 32% increase in encounters in New York this year with one month still left to be recorded. The total to date is more than 118,000.

"We have been responding to this humanitarian crisis for more than a year now, and in recent days we are seeing a significant surge in arrivals," said Anne Williams-Isom, deputy mayor for Health and Human Services in New York City.

"It is a very frustrating moment for all New Yorkers. We have called on the federal government to provide additional support in the form of financial assistance, allowing work authorization for more asylum seekers, a coordinated decompression strategy -- and declaring this a federal emergency."

Faraway states

Neighboring New Jersey, home of presidential candidate and former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, is one of the few states that has not surpassed its number of 2022 encounters. The state recorded 14,735 in 2022 and 12,197 this year.

South Carolina, home state to two candidates, former Gov. Nikki Haley and Scott, has also not surpassed its 2022 numbers. It recorded 3,140 encounters in 2022 and 2,443 so far this year.

Most states, however, have seen an uptick, even though they are hundreds of miles from the Mexico border.


Encounters in Minnesota are up 48% to 2,354. Colorado's encounters have nearly doubled, up from 954 to 1,796.

Jon Ewing, spokesman for Denver Human Services, told UPI his city has experienced three influxes of immigrants in the past year. However, like in most cases, it is difficult to distinguish how many of the immigrants have come to the country illegally. The first surge happened in December, followed by another in May and one that is ongoing.

Ewing said many of the immigrants are coming from Venezuela.

"We've seen an incredible increase in individuals coming here from the southern border," Ewing said. "These are individuals seeking help and asylum. Many are fleeing from violence."

If an individual arrives in Denver, they can stay in a shelter for 14 days. If they are with a family, they have 37 days. Ewing and his team provide them with resources to find work and shelter beyond that. In some cases, they are offered bus tickets if they have friends or family somewhere else.

"The resources are limited. It's a struggle all the way across the board," Ewing said.

Although resources are stretched thin in Denver, the intake process remains orderly, he said. The city's reception center looks much like the Department of Motor Vehicles on most days. Most people know how the process works and what to expect when they arrive. Many even find work very quickly.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has added to surges in cities like Denver by busing immigrants from his state. On Thursday, Abbott said in a statement on social media that he has sent 3,100 people to Denver, as well as 18,200 to New York City, 13,000 to Chicago and 12,500 to Washington.

Hours before Abbott's statement, the Biden administration announced it had reversed direction on the construction of a wall at the southern border. The administration will waive 26 federal laws, including environmental protection and laws protecting Indigenous land, in order to construct a physical barrier in Texas.

Title 8

Expulsions, admissions and deportations are just a few of the functions of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The agency also takes on search-and-rescue efforts. Migrants are rescued from the deserts of the Southwest or from the waters of the Rio Grande for instance. There have been 32,577 search-and-rescue instances by the Southwest Border Patrol alone, a 33% increase.

Expulsions and deportations are being carried out under the Title 8 immigration law. It carries notable differences from Title 42.

The chief difference is that Title 8 takes formal measures to ban migrants from attempting to re-enter the United States for at least five years. If they attempt to re-enter before then, they face potential criminal charges and jail time.


Title 42 carries no such measures, meaning a migrant may attempt to return to the United States almost immediately after being processed.

CBP says recidivism has decreased significantly since the end of Title 42. Of the 232,972 encounters recorded in August, 11% had made a previous attempt to enter the United States in the last 12 months.

In April, the last full month that Title 42 was enforced, nearly a quarter of all encounters were made with people who had previous attempts in the last 12 months.

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