Federal law enforcement officials in November stopped 173,620 noncitizens along the 2,000-mile southern border as they attempted to sneak in between ports of entry or were denied admission at inspection booths, data released Friday by the Customs and Border Protection show. The number is a 5% increase from October and extremely high by historical standards.

The majority tried to get across the border in areas without a border wall. Roughly 49,000 people of the 173,620 encountered tried more than once to get across the border in November.

"CBP's vigilance is key to disrupting smugglers and transnational criminal organizations as they exploit vulnerable populations and attempt to traffic illegal and dangerous products,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement.

November's numbers are multiple times historical norms. Last November, more than 72,000 people were encountered at the southern border, and just 42,000 were intercepted in November 2019.

Two-thirds of the noncitizens encountered last month were single adults, and the remainder were families or children without adults accompanying them. Half of the 173,620 encountered were returned to Mexico under a pandemic public health protocol known as Title 42. At the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March 2020, the Border Patrol began turning virtually all migrants back to Mexico to avoid filling detention facilities with people. The Biden administration has walked back the procedure when children arrive, and Mexico has stopped accepting many families on the basis that its shelters are at capacity.

The November number is down from 192,001 in September and 209,840 in August. The number of people caught attempting to illegally enter the United States peaked under the Biden administration at 213,593 in July, which was the highest in 21 years.

The surge of migrants traveling from countries across South America, Central America, and Mexico comes amid worsening conditions globally because of the pandemic and following changes that President Joe Biden made to immigration policies. The number of illegal crossings at the border has climbed for the past 17 months after dropping dramatically at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

Nearly 2 million people were encountered by federal law enforcement while attempting to enter the U.S. illegally over the past year.

Illegal immigration to the U.S., the extent of which cannot be fully known because of how many evade federal police, is taking place at a faster rate in the first 10 months of Biden's tenure than during any time in the Border Patrol’s 97-year history.

The 1.66 million unlawful crossings that Border Patrol thwarted nationwide over the past 12 months is the third-highest in U.S. history, coming in close to 1,692,544 in 1986 and 1,676,438 in 2000.

Over the past decade, typically 30,000 to 50,000 people have been encountered illegally crossing the southern border each month. That number dropped to below 20,000 at the start of the pandemic, partly as the result of a Trump administration order that any child, adult, or family who illegally crossed be sent back to their home country rather than taken into custody.

After taking office on Jan. 20, the Biden administration told migrants not to go to the border. However, it stopped turning away children who showed up alone at the border, and in the months that followed, more children showed up at the southern border than at any time in U.S. history.

Biden initially explained the uptick in illegal migration this spring as “seasonal.” But the numbers continued to spike through the summer months, when fewer migrants have historically been apprehended at the border because the heat acts as a deterrent.

This spring, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas rolled out the Biden administration's four-prong plan to stem the flow of migrants illegally entering the country. This included addressing the root causes that lead people to leave their home countries, rebuilding the asylum process, improving border security management, and taking down smugglers. To date, the Biden administration has not made substantive progress in any of the four areas.


As illegal immigration remains at record-high levels, cartels have continued to push high quantities of illegal drugs into the country. Drug seizures were up 90% from October, with the biggest increase in methamphetamine — up 164% over the previous month.