November 3, 2021

Biden's Border Crisis and His Lackluster Response


  • The number of people caught illegally trying to cross our southern border has soared because of President Biden’s policies.
  • Every excuse and alternative explanation offered by the administration has fallen apart, including that any increase was normal seasonal activity and that the answer was to address the “root causes” in migrants’ home countries.
  • The crisis at the border will only get worse if Democrats succeed in repealing COVID-19 related measures that allowed authorities to quickly expel border crossers.  

In the first days of the Biden administration, politics took priority and the president quickly repealed the previous administration’s immigration policies. A massive humanitarian and security crisis at the border quickly ensued. The number of people caught trying to cross into the country illegally spiked to record highs.

Number of People Caught Crossing the Border Illegally Has Soared

Border Encounters

Through the first nine months of this year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reported it “encountered” 1,516,650 people trying to cross the southern border illegally. This is nearly 5 times as many as were caught in the same period in 2020, when officials recorded 329,741 encounters. 

More than just A Seasonal PAttern

As the crisis was building in the spring, President Biden tried to downplay the numbers and the role of his policies in creating this crisis. He disingenuously claimed that the spike was nothing more than a normal seasonal trend that we always see in the cooler months.

“There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March.  That happens every year.” President Joe Biden

It’s true that’s typically the start of a busier season at the border that begins to decline in June. What’s new under President Biden, however, is that the surge was extraordinarily high in the winter, and then it did not subside – it got much worse in the summer. Clearly there is more happening here than the change of seasons.

2021 Summer Surge at the Border Dwarfs the Winter

Border Encounters Summer Surge

Rooting out the real cause

The administration and Democrats in Congress have argued that the answer to the exceptional number of people trying to cross our border illegally is to give away billions of dollars in foreign aid. They say that this will address the “root causes” of migration from the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. A spokesperson for the administration indicated in April that it considers these root causes to be different from, and more important than, what is happening at the border.  

“[Vice President Harris’] focus is not on the border, it’s on addressing the root causes in the Northern Triangle.” – White House press secretary Jen Psaki

The data show that not only are the internal challenges of the Northern Triangle countries not the key to the surge of people trying to cross our border, those three countries are increasingly not where the migrants are coming from. There has been a huge increase in the number of people caught who are not originally from Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala. People from countries other than the Northern Triangle accounted for 884,182 of the attempted crossings so far this year. The number has climbed from 50,465 in January to 129,682 in September.

Non-Northern Triangle Encounters in 2021

Non-Northern Triangle Encounters in 2021

Administration downplays crisis

The administration has tried to downplay and obscure the extent of the border crisis. President Biden said on October 21 that he had not yet had time to visit the border. CNN reported at the time: “Biden has taken 35 personal trips and spent all or part of 108 of his first 276 days in office at one of his Delaware homes or at Camp David.”

“I guess I should go down.  But the whole point of it is, I haven’t had a whole hell of a lot of time to get down.” – President Biden

The president had put Vice President Harris in charge of his border response in March, and she showed a similar lack of urgency on the subject. After three months she still had not visited the border and even laughed about the fact in an interview: I, and I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t, I don’t understand the point that you’re making.” President Biden’s nominee to head CBP also refused to call the situation at the border a crisis during his confirmation hearing on October 19.


The crisis at the border could grow in the future, if the administration ends the Title 42 order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That order was implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed the Department of Homeland Security to quickly expel illegal border crossers and other people on public health grounds. So far in 2021, 59% of the people encountered by U.S. Border Patrol have been expelled under this order. Democrats are pressuring President Biden to repeal the authority. Lifting the order could cause border traffic to climb even higher. On a call with his staff in September, DHS Secretary Mayorkas reportedly asked whether his department was prepared to deal with an influx of as many as 400,000 people trying to cross the border the month after the order is removed. 


Issue Tag: National Security