U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 2.3 million migrant apprehensions at the southern border in the last 12 months — surpassing the record high set last year.
The annual total — which includes people who were stopped at the border more than once — jumped by 37% from 1.7 million the year before.
That isn't to suggest 2022 saw the largest number of people trying to enter the U.S. illegally. For instance, the Department of Homeland Security estimates that there were nearly 4 million unauthorized border crossings in 2000 but only 1.6 million were counted. Over the years, immigration authorities have been able to track more migrants as a result of improved security technology.
Still, the year-end tally is significant. The government data shows that a growing number of border-crossers are from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua and fewer are coming from north Central America — signaling a new challenge for the Biden administration as the November midterm elections draw closer.
Because of strained diplomatic ties and costs, the U.S. has also faced the dilemma of being unable to return migrants to Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua.
"The ability to send them back to those states are not rational. We're working with Mexico and other countries to stop the flow," President Biden said in a press conference last month.
Nearly a quarter of all border encounters were with families, while 6% involved children whom were met by Border Patrol agents without parents or guardians. The largest share of encounters, nearly 70%, continued to be with single adults.
The agency's 2022 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, was also the deadliest 12 months for border-crossers. More than 800 migrants died on the journey to try to enter the U.S. — drowning and heat exhaustion being among the top causes of death, according to Border Patrol figures.
The Biden administration said it wants to discourage migrants from making the dangerous journey.
Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will begin sending Venezuelan migrants who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to Mexico. The agency added that up to 24,000 Venezuelans will have a chance to live and work in the U.S. — if they can find a financial sponsor in the U.S. Many have reported difficulty in fulfilling that requirement.