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What do the numbers at the border mean?

The U.S. documented 2.38 million border encounters in Fiscal Year 2022. Headlines emphasizing the high number of encounters lack context about who is arriving, why they’ve come, and whether they ultimately stay in the U.S. To truly understand the situation at the border, we need to take a closer look at the numbers:

The U.S. documented 2.38 million border encounters in Fiscal Year 2022. Headlines emphasizing the high number of encounters lack context about who is arriving, why they’ve come, and whether they ultimately stay in the U.S. An “encounter" occurs when the government processes a migrant who has attempted to cross into the U.S. without authorization, at or between an official port of entry. An encounter is counted if a person: - Is apprehended while attempting to evade detection - Is expelled under Title 42 or otherwise prevented from making a case for protection. - Deliberately turns themself in to pursue humanitarian protections, at or between ports of entry. - Is allowed to continue pursuing a case for humanitarian protection. - Is apprehended again after having been previously counted one or more times. SEEKING ASYLUM IS A LEGAL RIGHT Under U.S. law, those who fear persecution are legally entitled to seek protection in the United States. To be granted asylum, migrants must prove that they have suffered persecution or have a “well-founded fear” of facing persecution if they were to return to their home country. In recent years, technology to detect border crossers has advanced, and an increasing proportion of migrants deliberately turn themselves in. Thus, a significant majority of border crossers are now identified and processed by federal officials. Once someone is encountered, the government screens them extensively: recording biometric and biographic information, conducting real-time record checks, and determining the appropriate processing pathway for the migrant. TITLE 42 LED TO MORE ENCOUNTERS Every time someone is apprehended at the border, this interaction is considered an encounter, regardless of how many times they have previously been counted. Under Title 42, some penalties for unlawfully attempting to cross the border do not apply, so the number of repeat crossings soared. WHO WAS ENCOUNTERED? Those fleeing authoritarian regimes: Venezuela and Cuba were the two top countries represented among migrants who were allowed to remain in the U.S. to pursue their claims for protection. 1.1 million people were immediately expelled under Title 42, the policy blocking many migrants from making asylum claims. 

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