The Department of Homeland Security is expecting between tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors to illegally cross the southern border this year, a record high, internal agency documents obtained by the Washington Examiner show.
“DHS projections call for approximately 148,000 and 161,000 [unaccompanied children] referrals to [Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement] this year,” a leaked inter-agency document obtained by the Examiner said. “With monthly projections exceeding those seen in FY 2021.”
Currently, the agency is reporting encountering 101,024 unaccompanied minors so far in FY 2022, which runs from Nov. 1, 2021, to Oct. 31, 2022, according to Customs and Border Protection.
The agency saw a record 147,975 lone children crossing in FY 2021, compared to just 34,126 in FY 2020.
The number of children crossing on their own started to spike upward following President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, quickly rising above 5,000 a month, to more than triple that with about 15,000 coming across between March and April 2021, CBP data shows.
That number has fluctuated in the ensuing months between 15,000 and just under 20,000 per month, according to the data.
The reported numbers only reflect those that were apprehended by CBP, or those not traveling with a parent or guardian, the Examiner report said.
Looking at historical CBP data from 2010-2019, the numbers from 2021 and the anticipated total for 2022 are more than double the highest prior year of 76,136 in 2019, and four times the average of 43,425 per year during the period.
In March 2021, Axios reported that CBP believed that the surge of more than 20,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border would slow after about seven months or so, but that never happened.
According to the Examiner report, many of these children crossing the border are brought by human smugglers and the Mexican drug cartels, and that has led to a record 112,433 lone children found on the U.S. side of the border between February and August of 2021, more than the previous 12-month record of 80,000 in 2019, the agency data shows.
At the time, Biden said the overall surge in illegal border crossings was “seasonal,” and “happens every single year.”
Almost 2 million illegal migrants crossed into the United States in FY 2021, and this year the total is already at more than 1.7 million encounters, according to the CBP.