Border patrol agents apprehended nearly 210,000 migrants at the southern border last month and a record 87,000 were seen slipping across the frontier into the US, an immigration watchdog has warned.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which campaigns for cutting people flows, released its provisional tally of apprehensions at the border amid widespread concern about migrant flows.
Recent polling shows that nearly half of voters want the border closed and illegal migrants deported. Some support the construction of a border wall; others seek more short-term visas for skilled migrants.
The warning comes as Americans decide which party will control Congress for the rest of President Joe Biden‘s term, and immigration — along with crime, the economy, and access to abortions — is driving high turnout this year.
FAIR’s president Dan Stein complained of a ‘catastrophic two years for border security’ and blamed the Biden administration’s ‘open-borders policies’ and for ‘knowingly, willfully, and consistently’ failing to enforce immigration laws.
A group of migrants who entered the US illegally from Mexico are steered into a van by US Border Patrol agents on October 6, 2022, in Calexico, California
‘The Biden administration cannot continue to cover up what is happening,’ said Stein.
It ‘continues to purposefully ignore our nation’s immigration laws while abandoning policies of the previous administration that were designed to keep our borders secure and the American people safe,’ he added.
FAIR says it obtained provisional figures from border guards showing that agents apprehended some 209,664 illegal crossers at the southern border in October, while 86,796 ‘known gotaways’, as they are known, slipped across without being detained.
That number is ‘particularly worrisome’, said FAIR, as it may well be the highest rate on record and because those who cross the border without being processed include criminals and terrorists.
Americans appear to be increasingly worried by the occasionally chaotic scenes at the border. A survey of 1,359 voters by the conservative TIPP Poll this month found relatively strong support for closing the border.
Some 45 percent of voters wanted the border shuttered and undocumented migrants deported — a view held by 67 percent of Republicans, but only 31 percent of Democrats.
Another 29 percent favored the wall-building policy of former president Donald Trump.
About a third of respondents, however, favored the creation of legal pathways for more migrants to enter the US, with temporary visas for those with skills that would help the struggling US economy.
Immigration is among the issues motivating voters in the midterm elections, with 9 percent of respondents to an ABC/Washington Post survey saying it was their key issue. The economy, access to abortion and inflation were the top priorities.
Voters consider the economy one of the most important factors at the ballot box for the midterm elections – followed by abortion, inflation and democracy – a poll released on Sunday showed
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who looks set to take the speakership if all goes as expected, said on Monday that a GOP-controlled Congress’ first priority would be to pass a bill to ‘control the border.’
‘The first thing you’ll see is a bill to control the border first,’ McCarthy said. ‘You’ve got to get control over the border. You’ve had almost 2 million people just this year alone coming across.’
McCarthy said his party had a ‘number of different ways’ to address the southern border, but emphasized they would not move on immigration reform until the flow of migrants at the border was stemmed.
‘I think ‘Stay in Mexico’ you have to have right off the bat,’ McCarthy said, referring to the Migrant Protection Protocols that require those claiming asylum to wait in Mexico until their claim makes its way through court.
The Biden administration ended the policy back in August.
Republicans rode into Election Day with confidence as most polling predicts they will control the House next year. FiveThirtyEight gives Republicans an 84 percent shot at taking back the House, and a 55 percent shot at the Senate.