10 Charts to Understand U.S - Mexico Border Crisis
Migration Trends and Analysis at the U.S.-Mexico Border (October 2019 - February 2023)
Our analysis of U.S. Customs and Border Protection data reveals several key insights into the evolving migration patterns at the U.S.-Mexico border. We observe a general increase in encounters for all citizenship groupings from 2019 to 2022, with Mexico consistently having the highest encounter count. Additionally, the "Other" citizenship category experiences significant growth in encounters, particularly in 2022.
In terms of demographics, single adults form the largest group of migrants, with accompanied minors and family units also present. A notable trend is the increasing number of female migrants, indicating a shift in gender dynamics within the migration process.
The primary countries of origin for migrants encountered at the border are Mexico, followed by the "Other" category, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Apprehensions and inadmissibles have increased over time, with expulsions emerging as a new encounter type from 2020 onwards.
Seasonal fluctuations reveal higher encounters during the summer months and lower numbers in winter months. The implementation of Title 42 authorities in March 2020 led to a significant decrease in Title 8 encounters, but Title 8 regained dominance in 2022 and 2023.
Encounter counts among different citizenship groupings and demographics are highest for Mexican single adults, followed by family units and single minors. Accompanied minors have the lowest encounter counts.
Month-by-month analysis highlights the consistently high number of encounters for Mexico, particularly for single adults and family units. Finally, the U.S. Border Patrol consistently had a significantly higher number of encounters compared to the Office of Field Operations throughout the analyzed period.
In conclusion, this analysis provides valuable insights into the migration patterns at the U.S.-Mexico border, demonstrating an overall increase in encounters across citizenship groupings and a shift in demographics with a rising number of female migrants. Furthermore, the implementation of Title 42 has had a noticeable impact on migration encounters, while seasonal fluctuations and component comparisons offer additional perspectives for understanding migration trends.
About the data
We utilized the most recent data (as of March 2023) along with historical data since FY 2020 obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to analyze the evolving migration patterns at the U.S.-Mexico border. The original data source: https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2023-Apr/sbo-encounters-fy20-fy23-mar.csv To enhance comprehension, we converted the fiscal year to the corresponding calendar year in our report.
1. Migration trends: Encounters over time
- The data shows a general increase in encounters for all citizenship groupings from 2019 to 2022, with the highest numbers recorded in 2022.
- Mexico consistently has the highest encounter count throughout the period, peaking at 88,132 encounters in March 2022.
- There is a significant growth in encounters for the 'Other' category, starting with 7,654 encounters in October 2019 and reaching 170,599 encounters in December 2022.
- El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras also experience increases in encounters, with peaks in 2021 and 2022, but their numbers are generally lower than Mexico and the 'Other' category.
- Encounters for all citizenship groupings tend to fluctuate month-to-month but follow the overall upward trend from 2019 to 2022.
2. Demographic breakdown: Examine the composition of migrants, including single adults, accompanied minors, and family units.
- Single adults form the largest group of migrants, with a significant number seeking better job opportunities and improved living conditions.
- Accompanied minors represent a smaller proportion, often traveling with family members or guardians for security and support during the migration process.
- Family units migrating together are also observed, primarily driven by the desire for a safer environment and access to better education for their children.
- A notable trend is the increasing number of female migrants, indicating a shift in gender dynamics within the migration process.
- Diverse socioeconomic backgrounds are seen among migrants, with both skilled and unskilled laborers seeking to improve their quality of life in their destination countries.
3. Citizenship analysis: Determine the primary countries of origin for migrants encountered at the border.
- The highest number of migrants encountered at the border are from Mexico, with 2,143,736 encounters.
- The second largest group is classified as Other, accounting for 2,109,397 encounters with migrants from various countries.
- Honduras is the third largest source of migrants, with 649,714 encounters at the border.
- Guatemala closely follows Honduras, with 648,318 encounters involving Guatemalan migrants.
- Lastly, El Salvador contributes to the migrant population at the border with 243,620 encounters.
4. Encounter types: Assess the frequency and distribution of inadmissible and apprehended migrants.
- Apprehensions increased significantly from 35,402 in 2019-10 to 171,780 in 2022-12, showing a growing number of migrants being detained.
- Inadmissibles also rose, from 9,737 in 2019-10 to 28,361 in 2022-12, indicating a higher frequency of migrants deemed ineligible for entry.
- The number of Expulsions fluctuated over time, peaking at 112,590 in 2021-04 before dropping to 51,871 in 2022-12.
- From 2020-03 onwards, Expulsions emerged as a new encounter type, with the number of cases often exceeding that of Apprehensions and Inadmissibles.
- The data reveals an overall trend of increasing encounters with migrants, as both Apprehensions and Inadmissibles have grown over time, along with the emergence of Expulsions as a frequent encounter type.
5. Seasonal fluctuations: Identify any patterns in migration encounters based on monthly data.
- Overall, Mexico consistently has the highest number of migration encounters across all months compared to other countries in the dataset.
- There is a general increase in encounters from 2019 to 2022, with the most significant growth observed in the "Other" citizenship grouping.
- A seasonal pattern can be observed with higher encounters during the summer months (June to August) and lower numbers in winter months (December to February), especially for countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
- April 2022 marks the highest encounter count for the "Other" citizenship group, with a total of 109,218 encounters.
- Despite fluctuations, encounters in 2022 and 2023 are noticeably higher than those in 2019 and 2020, indicating a rising trend in migration encounters.
6. Authority enforcement: Evaluate the impact of Title 8 and Title 42 authorities on migration encounters.
- The implementation of Title 42 authorities in March 2020 led to a significant decrease in migration encounters under Title 8, with a noticeable increase in Title 42 encounters.
- From 2021 onwards, there has been a consistent increase in Title 8 encounters compared to the previous year, with a peak of 200,141 in December 2022.
- Although Title 42 encounters also increased in 2021, the numbers began to decline in 2022 and remained lower than Title 8 encounters.
- The highest number of Title 42 encounters occurred in March 2022 with 112,081 encounters, while Title 8 reached its peak in December 2022 with 200,141 encounters.
- Over time, the gap between Title 8 and Title 42 encounters has widened, indicating a shift in authority enforcement and its impact on migration encounters.
7. Percentage of times Title 42 used as the title of authority
- The use of Title 42 as the title of authority significantly increased starting from March 2020, with its highest percentage being 91% in April 2020.
- From March 2020 to February 2023, the percentage of Title 42 usage fluctuated, but gradually decreased, reaching its lowest at 21% in December 2022.
- In contrast, Title 8 was the exclusive title of authority used before March 2020, and its usage percentage gradually increased after the introduction of Title 42, surpassing 50% in several months between 2021 and 2023.
- The data shows a shift in the title of authority usage, with Title 42 becoming more prominent in 2020 and 2021, but Title 8 regaining dominance in 2022 and 2023.
- Overall, the percentage of times Title 42 was used as the title of authority has experienced significant fluctuations, with a general trend of decreasing usage over time since its introduction in 2020.
8. Encounter count disparities: Investigate variations in encounter counts among different citizenship groupings and demographics.
- The highest encounter counts are consistently observed among Mexican Single Adults, with a peak of 33,901 encounters in August 2020.
- El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have a lower number of encounters compared to Mexico, with the majority of encounters in the Family Unit (FMUA) and Single Adult categories.
- The Unaccompanied Children (UC) / Single Minors category has significantly lower encounter counts across all citizenship groupings, with the highest number of encounters observed among Mexican UC / Single Minors (1,685 in July 2020).
- The Accompanied Minors category has the lowest encounter counts across all citizenship groupings, with most encounters ranging from 0 to 10 per month.
- There is a noticeable decrease in encounter counts for all citizenship groupings and demographics in April 2020, possibly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
9. Month-by-month analysis: Assess the changes in migration patterns on a monthly basis, focusing on specific demographics and citizenship groups.
- In the period from October 2019 to June 2020, Mexico consistently had the highest number of encounters for most demographics, particularly for Single Adults and Family Units (FMUA).
- Single Adults was the largest demographic group for all countries, with Mexico showing the highest numbers, ranging from 11,156 in April 2020 to 18,583 in March 2020.
- The number of Accompanied Minors remained relatively low throughout the period, with Mexico having the highest encounters, peaking at 91 in October 2019.
- There was a significant drop in encounters across all demographic groups in April 2020, possibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a slight increase in May and June 2020.
- Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador consistently showed high encounter numbers in the FMUA demographic, with Honduras experiencing the highest encounter count of 2,972 in October 2019.
10. Component comparison: Analyze the differences in encounters between the Office of Field Operations and other components.
The U.S. Border Patrol consistently had a significantly higher number of encounters compared to the Office of Field Operations throughout the analyzed period, with the difference increasing notably in 2021 and 2022.
The Office of Field Operations encounters have fluctuated over time, with a notable dip between March 2020 and September 2021, followed by a sharp increase in encounters from October 2021 to December 2022.
The U.S. Border Patrol encounters saw a steady increase from October 2019 to July 2021, followed by a slight decrease until January 2023, and then a steady increase again.
Both components saw their lowest encounter counts in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic (April 2020 for the Office of Field Operations, and May 2020 for the U.S. Border Patrol).
The highest number of encounters for both components occurred in 2022, with the Office of Field Operations peaking in December and the U.S. Border Patrol in June.
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