Federal authorities are encountering portions of other countries’ populations as illegal immigration to the U.S. continues to reach new records, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review of federal data.

Border Patrol encounters of illegal migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Nicaragua and Honduras accounted for between roughly 3% and 7% of the countries’ populations, according to Customs and Border Protection statistics and World Bank 2020 population data. The CBP data includes crossings at both the southern, northern and coastal border between October 2020 and November 2023.

“One of the issues with taking in mass migration from these countries is that you are very often losing some of the most important economic forces in these countries, which is the labor force, which has very negative impacts on local economies. So, you lose the workforce, you lose economic activity as a result and that on top of creating those economic impacts, obviously creates a kind of a flow of migration that kind of reinforces itself over time as more people leave,” Andrés Martínez-Fernández, a senior policy analyst specializing in Latin America for the Heritage Foundation, told the DCNF.

“The exodus of workers and, in many cases, head of households, men, leading to an increase in negative economic issues,” Martínez-Fernández said.

El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua had roughly 4% of their populations encountered by Border Patrol nationwide between fiscal years 2021 and 2024, according to the reviewed data. Border Patrol also encountered more than 3% of Cuba’s population.

The DCNF used World Bank population data from 2020 and Border Patrol encounters to calculate the percentages.

Data showing Border Patrol encounters from fiscal years 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 compared to 2020 population sizes in different countries

The White House tasked Vice President Kamala Harris with addressing the “root cause of migration” in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in March 2021, but hasn’t held an event on the issue since Feb. 6.

In October 2022, migrants at the Guatemalan-Honduran border told the DCNF that they didn’t believe the U.S. government was doing enough to solve the safety and economic issues that were leading them to flee.

“It certainly undermines directly what the Biden administration says that they want to do in Central America, which is to build up economic opportunity and stability, to be accepting mass amounts of migrants into the United States illegally,” Martínez-Fernández said.

Border Patrol has recorded record illegal immigration in recent years, with more than 2.2 million encounters in fiscal year 2022 and more than 2 million in fiscal year 2023, according to federal data.

Jennie Taeron December 30, 2023
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