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Border crossings in January drop to lowest point since February 2021

<i>Rebecca Noble/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>A Border Patrol van reverses through a gate in the US-Mexico border fence in San Luis
AFP via Getty Images
Rebecca Noble/AFP/Getty Images
A Border Patrol van reverses through a gate in the US-Mexico border fence in San Luis

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

The number of unlawful crossings of the US-Mexico border in January marked the lowest levels of encounters since February 2021, administration officials said Friday.

In January, US Border Patrol made more than 128,000 apprehensions, down 42% from December, according to administration officials.

The handling of the US-Mexico border has been a political vulnerability for President Joe Biden, who faces criticism from Republicans and potential impeachment proceedings of his Homeland Security secretary. The White House has generally kept the issue at arms length but the drop in border crossings has instilled renewed confidence in administration officials who say new measures are helping drive the decline.

In recent weeks, administration officials have cited a new program that provides a legal pathway to the United States as contributing to a drop in border crossings. Encounters with migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela — the four nationalities that benefit from that program — have declined dramatically, officials said.

“Since the president announced our new border approach on January 5, the number of unlawful border crossings has plummeted,” an administration official told reporters Friday, adding that there’s also been a significant drop in migrants from Central America.

Border numbers often fluctuate depending on circumstances in the Western Hemisphere, so it’s unclear how long the trend will hold. The administration also continues to rely on a Trump-era Covid restriction, known as Title 42, that allows authorities to turn away certain migrants at the US-Mexico border, though it could expire soon.

But officials cited new measures, like the new program and use of an app for processing, along with coordination with Mexico as contributing to the decline in encounters.

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