Homeland Security reported another 192,001 encounters with illegal immigrants on the southwestern border in September, topping off one of the worst fiscal years on record.
The monthly total marked a slight decline from July and August, which Customs and Border Protection touted as a needed improvement.
But the numbers were still startlingly bad for an administration that insists it has things under control along the boundary with Mexico.
Fiscal year 2021 ended with 1.7 million encounters with illegal immigrants. Nearly all of those came on the watch of President Biden, and security experts attribute the number to policy changes and a lack of enforcement since his inauguration.
Among the brighter spots in September was a decline in the number of illegal immigrant juveniles traveling without parents, which have been among the most troubling cases. Fewer than 15,000 were apprehended in the month, down from highs closer to 20,000 earlier this year.
Still, the fiscal year ends with the worst total on record in that category.
CBP said a “majority” of the 192,001 encounters in September were immediately expelled under a pandemic emergency order. But tens of thousands were still caught and released into the U.S.
“The men and women of CBP continued to rise admirably to the challenge, despite the strain associated with operating during a global pandemic that has claimed far too many lives among our frontline personnel,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller.
The Friday afternoon release of the data seemed designed to lessen attention to the grim totals.
September, in addition to the high number of illegal crossings, also saw an unprecedented situation in Texas, where some 15,000 Haitians crossed the Rio Grande and established a beach head on the U.S. side. Homeland Security scrambled to process them, releasing the vast majority of them deeper into the U.S.
The department also faces allegations of abuse and mistreatment of Haitians, with images of border patrol agents on horseback attempting to block some migrants. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas promised an investigation to be completed in “days,” but nothing has been released.