Illegal immigration rises in March as migrants defy DHS’s new program

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Illegal immigration surged significantly in March, according to the latest Homeland Security numbers that suggest the Biden administration’s new program to try to discourage unauthorized border crossers is already losing its teeth.

Migrants are still rushing to take advantage of the new pathway President Biden created for illegal immigrants to enter through official ports of entry, but which was supposed to take pressure off Border Patrol agents at the southern border.

Instead, agents saw a 32,000-person jump in apprehensions last month, for a total of 162,317. That includes 11 more people whose names showed up in the government’s terrorist watchlist.

The numbers are particularly worrying given that the pandemic-era Title 42 expulsion authority expires next month, and Homeland Security will lose a key deterrent tool.

The numbers were released Monday evening, just ahead of two days of testimony on Capitol Hill by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

In testimony last month he had celebrated the new program to try to encourage illegal immigrants to come in a more orderly fashion, pointing to a severe drop in the numbers of Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Haitians and Cubans sneaking across the boundary.

Their numbers remain much lower than the record levels set late last year.

But increases in Mexicans, Central Americans, Colombians and Peruvians have eaten into that success.

Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller, in releasing the new numbers, pointed to the good news: Border Patrol apprehensions at the southern border were down 23% last month compared to March 2022.

But every other measure was grim.

Apprehensions were up 25% compared to February. And overall illegal crossings, including through the ports of entry, were only down 14% compared to March 2022.

And when the northern border and other entry points such as airports are included, overall illegal immigration was actually higher last month than in March 2022.

That means people are still coming, but they have shifted their method of entry.

Numbers for both illegal immigrant families, and for children traveling unaccompanied, also rose.

March marked halfway through the fiscal year, and CBP has recorded more than 1.5 million illegal entries nationwide over those six months.

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