A surge in the number of Cubans and Nicaraguans at the US-Mexico border in December led to the highest number of illegal border crossings recorded in any month of Joe Biden’s presidency, authorities said Friday.

The extraordinary influx came shortly before Biden introduced measures to deter Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans on Jan. 5.

US authorities stopped migrants along the Mexico border 251,487 times in December, up 7% from 234,896 in November and up 40% from 179,253 in December 2021, Customs and Border Protection said.

Cubans were stopped nearly 43,000 times in December, 23% more than in November and more than five times the same period a year earlier. Nicaraguans were stopped more than 35,000 times, up 3% from November and more than double from December 2021.

More migrants were also stopped from Ecuador and Peru.

The influx from Cuba and Nicaragua made El Paso, Texas, the busiest of the nine Border Patrol sectors on the border with Mexico for the third straight month. The city was crowded with migrants who had been released for US immigration proceedings in the weeks leading up to Biden’s Jan. 8 visit, his first visit to the border as president.

The number of Venezuelans arriving remained well below the peak in September, when the South American country was the second-largest nationality at the border after Mexicans. In October, the U.S. agreed to take in up to 24,000 Venezuelans on humanitarian parole, while Mexico agreed to take back the same number who entered the U.S. illegally and could be deported under the pandemic’s asylum-seeking rule. to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This month, Biden said the U.S. would admit up to 30,000 people a month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela under humanitarian parole, allowing them to live and work for two years if they apply online, pay their airfare and find a financial sponsor. . At the same time, Mexico has agreed to take back as many of those four nationals who enter the US illegally and can be removed under the pandemic rule known as Section 42.

Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller made it clear that the latest measures may have the desired effect.

“Early data shows that expanded measures for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans are having a similar impact, and we look forward to sharing more data in the next update,” he said in a press release.

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