House Homeland GOP hits Biden admin for ‘celebrating’ June border data, as fiscal year nears record high

FIRST ON FOX: Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee are criticizing the Biden administration for "celebrating" June's border numbers – amid a battle over the narrative of what shifting migrant numbers means for the ongoing crisis at the southern border.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data released this week showed there were 144,571 migrant encounters in June, compared to 207,834 in June last year and 189,034 in June 2021. In June 2020, there were just 33,049 at the border.

The numbers are high, compared to pre-2021 numbers. (June’s numbers are still higher than any month of the 2019 border crisis.) However, they mark the lowest at the border since February 2021 and a sharp drop from the 206,702 seen in May and 211,999 in April. A decrease is particularly unusual during the summer months. 


Administration officials have tied the drop in encounters to measures introduced by the Biden administration as Title 42 ended in May. Those include dramatically expanded legal pathways -- including allowing 1,450 migrants in a day through ports of entry via the CBP One App -- and a rule to limit asylum for those who enter illegally. 

The agency noted that the number of people crossing illegally had dropped to 99,545, a 42% decrease from May. Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller hailed "sustained efforts" to enforce consequences and expand access to pathways for having "driven the number of migrant encounters along the Southwest border to their lowest levels in more than two years."

In an interview published Friday in Politico, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas pointed to both the "lawful pathways" and the asylum rule as reasons for the numbers.

"So it’s: lawful pathways, and a consequence regime for not using them — and we’ve seen a dramatic drop," he said.


But Republicans have said that the numbers are nothing to celebrate, and they have criticized the new broad use of parole by the administration , arguing that it is beyond the "case by case" basis intended by Congress. 

Chairman Mark Green said that the administration "is attempting to deceive the American people by celebrating June’s monthly encounter numbers—even as the Office of Field Operations reported a nearly 200% increase in encounters compared to June 2022."

The Office of Field Operations is the CBP agency that encounters migrants at a port of entry. Those encountered entering illegally between ports are typically encountered by Border Patrol. Both OFO and Border Patrol encounters are included in the total number of encounters, but Republicans have accused DHS of simply waving in otherwise-illegal immigrants through ports of entry via the use of parole and the CBP One App. 

In June, over 38,000 migrants were scheduled for an appointment on the app. That is also separate from up to 30,000 Haitians, Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans per month who are eligible to be flown in via a separate parole program announced in January.

"This drastic increase is even more evidence of how Secretary Mayorkas is abusing the CBP One app to shift otherwise inadmissible alien entries to ports of entry and release hundreds of thousands of these individuals into the United States," Green, R-Tenn., said.

Meanwhile, the committee released a fact sheet noting that currently, the number of migrants encountered at the border for FY 2023 is at nearly 1.8 million, which already exceeds the then-historic numbers seen in FY 2021 (1.7 million) and is on pace to approach or exceed the record-breaking 2.4 million encountered last year.

"If this rate of encounters continues, Fiscal Year 2023 is shaping up to be the highest year of Southwest border encounters on record," the fact sheet says.

The factsheet also noted that there have been a 579% increase in encounters of Chinese nationals this fiscal year, and 140 people whose names matched on the FBI terror watch list. 


The clash comes as Republicans and Democrats continue to struggle to find common ground on the question of migration and illegal immigration — with Republicans pushing for border security, asylum reform and greater deportations, and Democrats calling for broader legal pathways, expanded refugee resettlement and amnesty for those already in the U.S.

Republicans have hammered the Biden administration, including Mayorkas, for its handling of the border crisis, arguing that policies it put into place have exacerbated the crisis. They point to reduced enforcement, greater catch-and-release and the abolition of Trump-era policies such as border wall construction and the Remain-in-Mexico policy. Some have even called for Mayorkas to be impeached over his conduct.

This week, the committee released a report accusing Mayorkas of an intentional dereliction of duty in his handling of the crisis.

"On top of these failures to uphold the law and fulfill his oath of office, Mayorkas has willfully undermined the sacred foundation of our constitutional republic—the separation of powers. He has rejected his responsibility to enforce the laws passed by Congress, and he has refused to respect rulings by the federal judiciary," it found.

DHS soon pushed back against the report. 

"Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of the Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people," a DHS spokesperson said on Wednesday. "The Department will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border, protect the United States from terrorism, and improve our cybersecurity, all while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.

"Instead of pointing fingers and pursuing a baseless impeachment, Congress should work with the Department and pass comprehensive legislation to fix our broken immigration system, which has not been updated in decades," the spokesperson said.