By Steven Kopits of Princeton Policy Advisors
US Customs and Border Protection reported 191,898 apprehensions at the US southwest border for June. This is comfortably a record for the month, almost twice the pre-Biden record of 115,000 set in June 2000 under the Clinton administration, and even 13,000 above last year's 177,000, a record for June at the time. At the same time, apprehensions were right on our forecast, and indeed, apprehensions have been following our forecast closely for the first half of the year, suggesting that border conditions are largely unchanged since the Biden administration took office.
Illegal immigration from traditional sources, notably Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, has been below that of last year since March. We presume that such immigrants are well informed about labor market conditions in the US, as they have a wide variety of sources within the US to direct them to job openings. Migrants may be perceiving softness in demand for their labor.
At the same time, a key source of border crossing growth has come from the 'Other' category, that is, countries historically not a major source of illegal immigration. In March-June 2019, for example, an average of 13,000 migrants from 'Other' countries were arrested crossing the border monthly. In the same period this year, the average was 100,000 per month. One can imagine all sorts of legacy problems arising from the growth of 'Other' apprehensions. They will create a pipeline of illegal immigration that will long outlast the Biden administration.
Our fiscal year 2022 forecast for southwest border apprehensions remains unchanged at 2.1 million, by far an annual record and nearly 500,000 higher than the previous record set by the Biden administration last year.
Inadmissibles, those presenting themselves at official crossing points without appropriate documentation, have fallen sharply, with most of the decline coming from the 'Other' category. These were, in all likelihood, disproportionately Ukrainians fleeing the war, with their numbers declining as the situation has stabilized there.
Overall, the situation at the border is largely unchanged. The Open Borders policy remains in place.
I would note that, were we to use a market-based visa system, the US could have booked $30 bn in visa revenues this year from those otherwise entering illegally during the Biden administration. The border would effectively be closed to illegal immigration; all those working in the country would be legal and willing to return home; and these 53 migrants would still be alive.