Seasonal Migrant Surge At the Southern Border

In the practice of Law, there is terminology used to establish whether a person or Company (also a person) is following a pattern or practice of doing something. Typically, the terminology is used in discrimination suits to determine or describe whether a defendant has a policy of doing so, even if the policy of doing so is not always followed. 

Nancy LeTourneau at Horizons Blog looks at such a pattern or practice with regard to migration issues on the southern US border using the detail provided by the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog

Lets get to my favorite, “the numbers.”

We have some charts today as provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Washington Post’s  Monkey Cage blog. They too have looked at the numbers and come to the same conclusion which Nancy LeTourneau reaches.

Lets establish a yes or no question and see if we can prove or disprove whether Republicans are correct in stating the recent surge is unique to Biden’s term as President.

Is the Southern border migration surge a practice or a pattern, the United States can expect over certain time (annual?) periods? Or is this occurrence during Biden’s tenure a one time occurrence which may be caused by his taking office and failing to act?

Using a graph supplied by Reuters and reviewing the numbers of people apprehended on a yearly basis, we can see the spikes occurring annually. The intensity of the spikes varies according to what each administration did or did not do. From 2000 till 2010, the numbers and peaks decreased and did not noticeably increase again till 2019.

The Washington Post, Monkey Cage, There’s no migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border.

Ok, lets take a closer look using a line graph resulting from the numbers displayed below the chart the numbers from the last three years and match 2021 graph data to date with them. This line graph is more detailed than the one from the Washington Post

U. S. Customs and Border Protection: Southwest Land Border Encounters

Looking at the line graph above, 2018 (Gray) has a mild spike starting in February and decreasing in June. In 2019 (orange) and starting in January, the peak is triple of what it was in 2018 and it starts to decline in May of 2019, the same as 2018.

In 2020 (trump’s last year), there is decreased activity at the border, a decrease to a low in April and then a gradual increase surpassing September 2018 and 2019 numbers. In 2021 (bluish), we begin to see a similar pattern as what 2019 displays beginning in January and exhibiting a similar incline in February 2021 as was in 2019.

We have one unexplained event in year 2020, when the pattern was broken and immigration decreased starting in January 2020. In 2020, the start of the pandemic occurred, the movement of people dropped due to fear of it, and governments taking action. Borders were also closed globally. In the US and after a delay, then President trump closed the borders (Canada and Mexico) by invoking Titles 8 and 42.

On March 21, 2020 the President, in accordance with Title 42 of the United States Code Section 265, determined, the existence of COVID-19 in Mexico and Canada was a serious danger of the further introduction of COVID-19 into the United States, The prohibition of persons or property, in whole or in part, from Mexico and Canada was required in the interest of public health.

U.S. Borders and Customs Protection: Title 8 Enforcement Actions and Title 42 Expulsions

We can take this one more step and examine the trend by looking back to 2012 going forward and displaying the cumulative totals by month over eight years ending in 2020.

The Washington Post: There’s no migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border

As you can see, migrants start coming when winter ends till May and then the numbers start to drop as the weather heats up in June.

We see a regular increase not just from January to February, but from February to March, March to April, and April to May. And then a sharp drop-off typically starting in May as migrants stop coming in the hotter summer months when the desert is deadly.

Unless the trend of migrants changes, the numbers of migrants will peak in May in 2021 the same as other years. The US can expect decreases from May to June to July.

The CBP’s numbers reveal that undocumented immigration is seasonal, shifting upward this time of year. During fiscal year 2019, under the Trump administration, total apprehensions increased 31 percent during the same period, a bigger jump than we’re seeing now. We’re comparing fiscal year 2021 to 2019 because the pandemic changed the pattern in 2020. In 2018, the increase is about 25 percent from February to March — somewhat smaller but still pronounced.

The Washington Post: It’s not a surge. It’s the usual seasonal increase.

As you can see, regardless of the level of migration, there are seasonal peaks almost every year with the exception of 2020 when then President trump invoking Titles 8 and 42.

As the blue line shows, the CBP has recorded a 28 percent increase in migrants apprehended from January to February 2021, from 78,442 to 100,441. News outlets, pundits and politicians have been falsely calling this a “surge” and a “crisis” when the trend has little difference than what occurred in 2019 and in previous years.

What we’re seeing, in other words, isn’t a surge or crisis, but a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policy-makers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded. Instead, it will just be the usual seasonal drop.


Mainstream Media Once Again Buys Into Republican Fear-Mongering, Horizons, Nancy LeTourneau, (

Biden’s immigration policies have not caused a ‘surge’ at the U.S. border with Mexico, Here’s the data. Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, Tom K. Wong, Gabriel De Roche and Jesus Rojas Venzor

Southwest Land Border Encounters, U. S. Customs Border and Protection,