March 27, 2024

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Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, revealed some U.S. data from March about migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) probably won’t share March data until the second half of April.)

Slides posted at López Obrador’s March 26 morning press conference indicated that CBP encountered 6,307 migrants per day during the first 21 days of March. Removing the approximately 1,450 per day who get CBP One appointments at ports of entry shows Border Patrol apprehending less than 5,000 people per day during the month’s first 3 weeks.

Though migration usually increases in springtime, these revealed numbers show that is not happening this year. In February, CBP averaged 6,549 migrant encounters per day (4,890 per day in Border Patrol custody). In other words, it appears that slightly more migrants per day came to the border in February than so far in March. If the trend continues, this would be only the second time that March migration is less than February migration in the 25 years for which we have data (since 2000).

The March data show that U.S. encounters with migrants from Venezuela continue to be far fewer than the past two years’ average. The United States’ encounters with Venezuelan migrants dropped sharply in January and have not recovered: they totaled 20,364 in January and February. On March 25 Mexico updated its own migrant encounter numbers, which show 56,312 encounters with Venezuelan citizens in January and February—almost 3 times more than the U.S. figure. That points to a strong likelihood that the Venezuelan population in Mexico is increasing sharply right now.

Mexico’s data show that its migration authorities encountered almost exactly 120,000 migrants in February, for the second straight month. Before January, Mexico’s monthly record for migrant encounters was about 98,000. This is evidence that Mexico’s government has stepped up efforts to interdict migrants in its territory so far in 2024.

At his press conference, López Obrador added that he is seeking to expand to citizens of Colombia and Ecuador a program that would pay US$110-per-month stipends to citizens of Venezuela who agree to return to their home countries. The program would depend on the cooperation of Mexican corporations with a presence in South America.

Mexico’s National Guard has increased patrols in an area of Tijuana, not far from the Pacific, where smugglers frequently help migrants climb the border wall to turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents.

An annual Easter week march of migrants near Mexico’s southern border—not exactly a “caravan,” but an organized “Migrant Via Crucis”—has walked over 10 miles through Chiapas, the country’s southernmost state, and plans to cover a similar distance today. Its numbers have reportedly dwindled to about half of the approximately 3,000 participants with which it began.

Texas’s state government deployed about 200 members of its National Guard’s “Texas Tactical Border Force” to El Paso. El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said, “It’s something that we didn’t request, and we won’t request from the state of Texas.”

The head of Guatemala’s migration agency, who worked in the government that left power in January, resigned yesterday. While the reason for Stuard Rodríguez’s departure is not known, it is notable that it takes place while the new president, Bernardo Arévalo, is in Washington and discussing migration with U.S. officials.

“Rodriguez made several reports during his administration of the increase of migrant expulsions, especially of Cubans and Venezuelans,” noted the Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre.

In Tucson, Arizona, local authorities now believe that federal funds—made possible by Congress passing a budget over the weekend—will arrive in time to prevent closure of shelters that receive migrants released from CBP custody. The prospect of “street releases” in Tucson and other Arizona border towns is now unlikely.

Analyses and Feature Stories

Conservative politicians and media outlets are going after the non-profit shelters that receive migrants released from CBP custody in U.S. border cities, along with other humanitarian groups, noted Miriam Davidson at The Progressive. Tucson’s Casa Alitas and El Paso’s Annunciation House have been subject to aggressive misinformation and legal attacks so far this year.

On the Right

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