Biden’s Released at Least 2,020,522 Southwest Border Migrants

One of the most common questions that I regularly get is “How many illegal migrants has President Biden released?” I have run the numbers, and it’s at least 2,020,522. I promise to show my math, but the real total is likely hundreds of thousands more, plus 1,373,155 others who evaded Border Patrol agents, all thanks to the president’s “catch and release” policies.

Disclosures in Texas v. Biden. Most of the information publicly available on President Biden’s migrant releases comes from Texas v. Biden, a case filed by the states of Texas and Missouri in April 2021 to force DHS to reimplement the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as “Remain in Mexico”.


As of June 15, 2022, those disclosures revealed that under the Biden administration, CBP — both Border Patrol agents and CBP officers in the agency’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) at the ports — and ICE had released 1,049,532 Southwest border migrants into the United States.

Note that those nearly 1.05 million migrants were released from DHS custody despite the fact that section 235(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) mandates that all such aliens be detained until they are formally admitted, granted asylum or some other relief from removal, or removed.


Florida v. U.S. and Border Patrol Releases. As Anna Diakun from the Knight First Amendment Institute noted at the start of the second year of the current administration:

On President Joe Biden’s first day in office, White House press secretary Jen Psaki pledged that the administration would “bring transparency and truth back to government.” While the administration took some initial steps toward fulfilling this pledge, it has simply failed to act on a number of transparency issues. Worse, the administration seems to be embracing the opaque and undemocratic policies of its predecessors on a few other fronts.

Immigration is likely the least transparent “front” of the Biden administration, and nothing underscores that fact like the president’s refusal to disclose statistics on migrant releases at the Southwest border.


{snip} Border Patrol does provide statistics on its Southwest border migrant releases, on yearly CBP web pages captioned “Custody and Transfer Statistics”.

For FY 2022, that page reveals that between July (the month after the last disclosures in Texas) and September 2022, Border Patrol agents released 70,212 illegal migrants with Notices to Appear (NTAs) on their own recognizance (OR), and an additional 166,158 on “parole” under section 212(d)(5)(A) of the INA with “alternatives to detention”, or ATD (identified as “Parole+ATD”). That brings the total for Border Patrol Southwest border migrant releases during that three-month period at the end of FY 2022 to 236,370, and the grand total — not counting OFO and ICE releases — to 1,365,554.

The “Custody and Transfer Statistics FY2023” web page shows that between October 2022 and February 2023 (the latest reporting month), Border Patrol agents released 79,671 Southwest border migrants on NTA/OR, and an additional 295,037 others on Parole+ATD, for a five-month total of 374,708.

Between the Border Patrol, OFO, and ICE disclosures in Texas and the Border Patrol Custody and Transfer Statistics numbers, but not including OFO and ICE releases after June 30, 2022, the total number of illegal migrants encountered by CBP at the Southwest border and released into the United States since Joe Biden became president therefore is 1,740,262.

Unaccompanied Alien Children. In its monthly disclosures in Texas, DHS made clear that it was not including release statistics for unaccompanied alien children (UACs):


Since February 2021, Border Patrol has apprehended 277,383 UACs from non-contiguous countries at the Southwest border, and OFO has encountered an additional 2,877 UACs at the ports of entry there — 280,260 in total.

That said, this figure may be low, because HHS reports in a March 28 fact sheet that 251,635 UACs were referred to ORR in FY 2021 and FY 2022, a figure that would not include the 46,212 non-contiguous UACs encountered by CBP at the Southwest border in FY 2023.

In any event, as of the date that fact sheet was released, HHS only had “approximately 7,994” UACs in its custody, and the department explains that UACs were only spending, on average, 25 days in ORR custody before they were placed with “sponsors” (often their illegal-alien parents or other relatives already in the U.S., who paid to have the children smuggled in the first place). Thus, nearly all, if not all, of those UACs encountered at the Southwest border by the end of February have already been released into the United States.

The Grand Total. On the low side, the Biden administration has released at least 2,020,522 illegal migrants encountered by CBP at the Southwest border into the United States — more people than reside in 13 U.S. states, or roughly 35,631 migrants more than the combined populations of Dallas, Texas, (1,259,404) and Seattle, Wash. (725,487).

That figure doesn’t include the 1,373,155 illegal migrants who were detected entering illegally but who successfully evaded agents at the Southwest border under Biden, known colloquially as “got-aways”; at least 385,000 in FY 2023, according to Chief Ortiz; 599,000 in FY 2022; and 389,155 in FY 2021.

Add them in, and you are now at 3,393,677, again not counting the unknown (and hidden) number of migrants released by OFO after June 30, 2022, or aliens transferred by CBP at the Southwest border to ICE and released after that date. That’s just 375,808 fewer people than live in Los Angeles, America’s second-largest city. Add in the unknowns, and the migrant total likely exceeds LA’s population.


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