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Over Quarter of a Million Migrant Encounters in December Alone, CBP Confirms

The number of migrant encounters at the southern border in December surpassed 250,000 in December alone, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed Friday evening — marking a new high for the Biden-era border crisis as it enters its third year.

There were 251,487 migrant encounters at the southern border for the month of December, surpassing the 179,253 encountered in December 2021, and the 73,994 encountered in December 2020.

Sources had told Fox News earlier this week that the number of encounters would surpass 250,000, which is even higher than the peak in 2022’s historic year, which came in May when numbers hit 241,136, during what are typically busier summer months.

That brings the three-month sum for FY 2023, which began on Oct. 1, to 717,660 total encounters already. Of the migrants encountered, 66.78%, or 479,229, were single adults.

The figure comes after two years of a historic and record-breaking migrant crisis that has overwhelmed communities and officials, caused tensions between cities deep in the U.S. interior over the bussing of migrants and marked a significant political headache for the administration.

December brought significant uncertainty with a dramatic back-and-forth over the status of Title 42, which has been used to expel migrants at the border rapidly since March 2020. A court had ordered the public health order be ended on Dec. 21. The uncertainty around the order saw migrants flood to the border, but the ending of the order was put on hold by the Supreme Court.

Republicans and some Democrats expressed concern that the order’s end would lead to a surge in encounters at the border. The Biden administration said it had a plan in place to handle any additional numbers, and repeatedly said that the border was not open, even if and when Title 42 ends.

“Of course the numbers will be higher when Republican elected officials, like smugglers, falsely proclaim the border is open because of a court order to lift Title 42,” an administration official told Fox News Digital on Friday.

The official also said that new measures announced in October to deal with a surge in Venezuelan migrants, which combined a limited humanitarian parole program with expanded removals under Title 42, are working. CBP said in its release that there was an 82% drop in encounters since September, dropping from roughly 1,100 a day the week before the process was announced to about 100 a day in December.

“Despite their misinformation, our border enforcement measures continue to hold strong with the number of Venezuelan nationals arriving at the border unlawfully continuing to drop dramatically,” the official said.