WASHINGTON (AP) — A surge in Cuban and Nicaraguan arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border in December resulted in the highest number of illegal border crossings recorded in any month of Joe Biden’s presidency, authorities said Friday.
The emergency influx came shortly before Biden imposed containment measures on January 5 to contain Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans.
U.S. authorities stopped migrants 251,487 times along the Mexican border in December, up 7% from 234,896 times in November and 40% more than 179,253 times in December 2021, Customs and Border Protection said.
In December, Cubans were stopped nearly 43,000 times, up 23% from November and more than five times more than in the same period a year earlier. Nicaraguans have been stopped more than 35,000 times, up 3% since November and more than doubling since December 2021.
More migrants from Ecuador and Peru were also stopped.
Influxes from Cuba and Nicaragua have made El Paso, Texas, the busiest of the nine border guard sectors on the Mexican border for the third straight month. The city was overflowing with migrants who were released to deal with their US immigration cases weeks before Biden’s January 8 visit, his first visit to the border as president.
The number of Venezuelans arriving from Venezuela remained well below September highs, when the South American country was the second largest nationality on the border after Mexicans. In October, the US agreed to accept up to 24,000 Venezuelans on humanitarian parole, while Mexico agreed to take back the same number of Venezuelans who entered the US illegally and could be deported under a pandemic-era rule to disqualify apply for asylum on the basis of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
This month, Biden said the US would accept up to 30,000 people a month on parole from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, allowing them to live and work for two years if they apply online, pay for airfare and find a financial sponsor. At the same time, Mexico agreed to return the same number of those four countries that enter the US illegally and can be expelled under a pandemic-era rule known as Section 42.
Troy Miller, acting CBP commissioner, signaled that the latest measures could have the desired effect.
“Preliminary data suggests that expanded measures for Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans are having the same impact, and we look forward to sharing more data in the next update,” he said in a press release.