The number of arrests for illegal crossings on the U.S. border with Mexico saw a significant decline in January, dropping by half from the record high numbers in December. This decrease marks the third lowest month of Joe Biden’s presidency, offering a glimmer of hope for the White House. Immigration has emerged as one of the key issues in this year’s presidential election, with early exit polls indicating that it is the top concern among many Republican voters.

In January, Border Patrol arrests totaled 124,220—a 50% drop from the previous month’s record high of 249,735 arrests. Notably, arrests of Venezuelans decreased by a substantial 91%, from 46,920 in December to 4,422 in January.

However, it is important to acknowledge that these numbers may fluctuate over time. In January, Panama reported a 46% increase in the number of migrants crossing the notorious Darien Gap, with 36,001 individuals making the perilous journey. The majority of these migrants are Venezuelans en route to the United States, but there are also significant numbers from Haiti, China, Ecuador, and Colombia.

“We continue to face significant challenges along our border that exceed the capacity of our immigration system,” Miller stated, highlighting that there is still much work to be done despite this positive development.

Border Crossings Decrease in Tucson, San Diego, and Del Rio Sectors

Tucson, Ariz., once again led the way as the busiest sector for illegal border crossings, with 50,565 arrests. This number represents a 37% decrease from December. The next most active sector was San Diego.

The Del Rio sector, known for being the main focus of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border enforcement efforts, saw a significant decline in arrests. The number dropped by a staggering 76% from December to 16,712, marking the lowest figure since December 2021.

In addition, arrests in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley decreased by 60% to 7,340, which is the lowest number since July 2020.

Fewest Border Arrests During Biden’s Presidency

It’s worth noting that the only months during President Biden’s tenure that saw fewer border arrests were June 2023 (after pandemic-related asylum restrictions were lifted) and February 2021 (his first full month in office).

Mexico’s Immigration Enforcement Agency Boosts Efforts

In a January interview with the Associated Press, Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, explained that Mexico’s immigration enforcement agency faced budgetary constraints in December. However, this issue was promptly resolved, resulting in an immediate and substantial drop in the number of encountered migrants at the southern border.

Migrant Encounters Decrease, Including Legal Pathways

If we take into account migrants who were allowed to enter the United States through new or expanded legal pathways, the total number of encounters in January was 176,205. This is a decline from the record-breaking figure of over 300,000 encounters in December.

Moreover, approximately 45,000 individuals were admitted at land crossings with Mexico in January through an online appointment system called CBP One. Since its introduction a year prior, this brings the total number of admissions to 459,118.

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