Was 2021 a record-breaking year for US-Mexico border crossings?

Thursday, February 10, 2022
By Robyn Sundlee

In 2021, more than 1.73 million undocumented immigrants were encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border—the highest ever recorded in a single year. The previous record of 1.69 million was set in 1986. Customs and Border Protection keeps yearly records of border encounters dating back to 1925.

CBP also keeps monthly records dating back to 2000. Among these, the highest number of encounters in a single month occurred in March 2000, when 223,305 encounters were recorded. July, the top month for encounters in 2021, was about 10,000 shy at 213,593 encounters.

Customs and Border Protection cited "violence, natural disasters, food insecurity and poverty" in Central American countries as responsible for the high number of encounters. Apprehensions of individual migrants also sharply increased after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, most border encounters involved families.

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Source: USAFacts, Customs and Border Protection
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US Customs and Border Protection Nationwide Encounters Fiscal Years 1925 - 2020
US Customs and Border Protection Southwest Land Border Encounters
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