(NewsNation) — A new report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency shows the highest number of migrant encounters ever recorded.
Despite the spike, however, the agency says new policies continue to make a difference and could lead to lower numbers in the months ahead.
As questions remain over the future of Title 42 and allowing border agents to turn migrants away at the border due to COVID-19 concerns, data shows December with the highest number of border encounters ever.
The report says last month saw over a quarter-million encounters along the border, up 7% from November and up 40% over last year’s December crossings, with many of the migrants coming from Cuba and Nicaragua.
But the agency pointed to signs of progress, with migrations from Venezuela down 82% from September.
This past fall, the Biden administration implemented a new policy aimed at Venezuelan migrants. It expanded expulsions at the border but also allowed up to 30,000 people to stay for two years if they pass a background check and provide a sponsor.
That same policy will now be applied to people arriving from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti, which could lead to fewer illegal crossings.
In a statement, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said, “The December update shows our new border enforcement measures are working.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas touted the Biden administration’s push to address immigration.
“We’re executing a comprehensive strategy to secure our borders and build a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” Mayorkas said.
But Republicans continue to accuse the president of not doing enough to stop the border crisis, vowing to investigate decisions made by his administration.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, called the border situation an unmitigated disaster.
“We look forward to having Secretary Mayorkas before the committee soon to provide answers and accountability,” Green said.
Moving forward, the political battle over the issue shows no signs of going away.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Mayorkas “needs Congress, especially Republicans in Congress, to stop doing political stunts and to come to the table and actually deal with an issue.”
The report from the customs agency shows single adults accounted for two-thirds of people encountered at the border in December, but around 570 unaccompanied children on average arrived every day as well.
It also showed fewer people from Mexico and Central American countries arrived compared to last year. The focus now remains on curbing numbers connected to Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua.