For the first time, more Venezuelans illegally crossing into U.S. than any other nationality

Venezuelans surpassed Mexicans as the largest nationality apprehended for illegally crossing the border for the first time in history, according to numbers released Saturday, which indicate September was the second-highest month for arrests of all countries.

Venezuelans were apprehended 54,833 times by the Border Patrol after entering from Mexico in September, more than double the previous month’s total of 22,090 arrests and far above the previous monthly high of 33,749 arrests in September 2022.

According to US Customs and Border Protection, total arrests of all nationalities entering from Mexico totaled 218,763 in September, up 21% from 181,084 in August and approaching an all-time high of 222,018 in December 2022. Arrests exceeded 2 million for the second year in a row for the government’s fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, down 7% from an all-time record of more than 2.2 million arrests in the same period a year earlier.

Venezuela has been in a political, economic, and humanitarian catastrophe for the past decade, forcing nearly 7 million people to flee. They first migrated in neighbouring Latin American countries before moving to the United States in the last three years, settling in New York, Chicago, and other large cities.

The Biden administration just offered temporary legal status for almost 500,000 Venezuelans who were already in the United States on July 31, while pledging to deport those who enter the country illegally after that date and do not qualify for asylum. It recently began deportation flights to Venezuela as part of a diplomatic thaw with the administration of former enemy Nicolas Maduro.

According to Troy Miller, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, the United States “surged resources and personnel” to the border in September.

“We are continually engaging with domestic and foreign partners to address historic hemispheric migration, including large migrant groups travelling on goods trains, and to enforce consequences including by preparing for direct repatriations to Venezuela,” Miller stated in a press release.

Mexicans accounted for the great bulk of illegal crossings for decades, but in the last decade, flows changed to Central Americans and, more recently, migrants from South America, Africa, and Asia.

In September, Mexicans were detained 39,733 times crossing the border, trailing just Venezuelans. The top five were Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Colombians.

Republicans seized on the new figures as their leading presidential hopefuls attempted to position the border as a significant issue in next year’s elections.

“This fiscal year may have ended, but the historic crisis at our Southwest border sparked by (Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro) Mayorkas’ policies rages on,” said Tennessee Rep. Mark Green, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.

In a $106 billion spending proposal published Friday, the Biden administration recommended around $14 billion for the border, and has stressed that any long-term solution required aid from Congress.

The government has taken a carrot-and-stick approach, creating new legal channels to seek asylum while imposing restrictions on individuals who do not follow them.

In September, almost 43,000 migrants entered the nation at land borders with Mexico using the CBP One mobile app, bringing the total to roughly 278,000 since the online appointment system began in January. In addition, about 265,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela came through airports in September after applying online with financial sponsors.

Including those legal routes, the number of crossings in September reached a new all-time monthly high of 269,735 and a new fiscal-year record of approximately 2.5 million.

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