Illegal border crossings fell in September, but past year saw the most ever

The sun sets behind a border fence
A border fence separating Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on Sept. 23.
(Fernando Llano / Associated Press)

Illegal border crossings from Mexico fell in September for only the second time in 17 months, but the federal fiscal year ended with the highest count ever, authorities said Friday.

Migrants were stopped 192,001 times, down 9% from August and below 200,000 for the first time since June, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Authorities stopped migrants more than 1.7 million times during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, nearly quadruple from 458,088 in the previous fiscal year, when COVID-19 first struck.


The annual total broke a previous high of more than 1.6 million in the 2000 fiscal year and is the highest since the Border Patrol was created in 1924. The numbers aren’t directly comparable because pandemic rules since March 2020 to expel migrants without giving them a chance to seek asylum carry no legal consequences, encouraging repeat attempts. In 27% of crossings during the latest fiscal year, migrants had been stopped at least once in the previous 12 months, compared with a recidivism rate of only 7% two years earlier, before the pandemic rules known as Title 42 authority took effect.

In September, the number of single adults jumped from a year earlier but was more than offset by declines in people arriving in families or as unaccompanied children.

The monthly total includes about 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants who camped under a bridge in the small Texas border town of Del Rio. Haitians were encountered 17,966 times during September, up from 7,757 in August to become the fourth most common nationality after Mexicans, Hondurans and Guatemalans.

The number of Ecuadoreans encountered at the border by U.S. authorities fell sharply after Mexico began requiring visas last month.