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CBP March 2023 Operational Update

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CBP works around the clock to perform our vital missions including maintaining border security. USCBP Image for illustration purposes
CBP works around the clock to perform our vital missions including maintaining border security. USCBP Image for illustration purposes

Texas Border Business

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WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released operational statistics today for March 2023, which can be viewed online here.

“CBP works around the clock to perform our vital missions including maintaining border security. Overall, in March, encounters of individuals on the Southwest border between ports of entry were down 23% from the prior year, as we continue to respond to the challenges presented by increasing global migration,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy A. Miller. “CBP will continue to enforce our immigration laws and ramp up efforts to combat smuggler misinformation as we prepare to return to expedited removal proceedings under Title 8 authorities, which carry stricter consequences like a five-year ban on reentry and potential criminal prosecution for unlawful entry.”

CBP Southwest Border Enforcement Numbers for March 2023

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U.S. Border Patrol encounters of individuals who entered the country between Ports of Entry at the southwest border in March 2023 totaled 162,317, up 25% from 130,024 in February 2023. Our January border enforcement measures continue to hold strong even against the typical migration patterns seen as we enter the warmer months. This month’s encounters are down 23% from last year, and the month-over-month change is the lowest seasonal increase seen in two years.

This increase in encounters from February to March is typical, as winter temperatures rise with the approaching spring, but less compared to prior years. Border Patrol’s 162,317encounters along the southwest border in March 2023, however, were down 23% from March 2022 (211,181) and down 4% from March 2021 (169,216). Additionally, the rate of increase from February to March 2023 (25%) for Border Patrol’s southwest encounters was less than the rate of increase from February to March 2022 (33%) and February to March 2021 (73%).

Combining Border Patrol encounters and noncitizens processed at Ports of Entry, CBP total encounters along the southwest border in March 2023 were 191,900, up nearly 23% from 156,138 in February 2023. Of these, single adult encounters increased by 19% compared to February, unaccompanied children increased 14%, and family unit individuals increased by 38%.

  • Over two-thirds (69%) of all southwest land border encounters were single adults, with 133,256 encounters in March, a 19% increase compared to February.
  • 87,662 encounters, 46% of the total, were processed for expulsion under Title 42. 104,238 encounters were processed under Title 8.
    • 77,257 encounters involving single adults (58% of all single adult encounters) were processed for expulsion under Title 42, with 55,999processed under Title 8 (42% of all single adult encounters).
    • 10,171 encounters involving family unit individuals (22% of all family unit individuals) were processed for expulsion under Title 42, with 35,793processed under Title 8 (78% of all family unit individuals).
  • In March 2023, there were 43,958 (23%) repeat encounters and 123,898 (65%) unique encounters. The number of unique individuals encountered in March 2023 was 123,898 compared to 97,069 in February 2023, a 28% increase in the number of unique individuals encountered the prior month.
  • Of those, 23% involved individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, compared to an average one-year re-encounter rate of 14% for FY2014-2019.

Unaccompanied Children

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  • Encounters of unaccompanied children increased 14%, with 12,374 encounters in March compared with 10,845 in February. In March, the average number of unaccompanied children in CBP custody was 464 per day, compared with an average of 438 per day in February.

Family Unit individuals

  • Encounters of family unit individuals increased by 38% from 33,291 in February to 45,964 in March—which is a 47% decrease from the peak of 86,626in August 2021.

CBP total encounters along the southwest border in March 2023 (191,900) were down(14%) percent from March 2022 (222,574).  Additionally, the rate of increase from February to March 2023 (23%) for CBP total encounters along the southwest border was less than the rate of increase from February to March 2022 (34%).

During March 2023, 27,783 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans (including immediate family members where applicable) were paroled into the country by CBP’s Office of Field Operations through the parole processes established for Venezuelans in October and expanded to the additional nationalities in January. Arrivals of noncitizens via these processes, which include careful vetting and require a supporter present in the Unites States, are a testament to the benefit of these lawful processes in promoting safe and orderly migration while reducing encounters along the Southwest Border.  

Encounters of Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans between ports of entry at the southwest border declined from a 7-day average of 1,231 on the day of the announcement on January 5, to a seven-day average of 339 on March 31—a drop of 72 percent.  

 Venezuela / Cuba / NicaraguaMexico /
N. Central America
March 20233,50865,058
% Unique Encounters3%53%

Unique Southwest Border Encounters by Select Citizenships

SW BorderCubaHaitiNicaraguaVenezuelaMexico /N. Central America 
23-Mar147 319 164 3,197 65,058 
% Unique.12% .26% .13% 2.58% 53% 
23-Feb145 178 302 1,297 55,432 
% Unique.15% .18% .3% 1% 57% 
% Unique5%2%3%5%47%
% Unique19%2%16%3%24%
% Unique18%2%17%3%30%
% Unique15%3%11%11%33%
% Unique14%2%10%18%32%
Mar change since Feb1.4%79%-45%146%17%
Feb changeSince Jan-97% -93% -90% -77 2.9% 
Jan change Since Dec-85%-32%-91%-9%2%
Dec change Since Nov23%-1%3%-3%-10%
Nov change Since Oct20%-21%64%-70%-3%
Oct change since Sept10%23%15%-38%5%
Sep change since Aug37%-23%58%33%2%

Note: Unique encounters include persons not previously encountered in the prior 12 months.
Source: Office of Immigration Statistics analysis of CBP data.

CBP One App

From January 12, when the scheduling function began, over 74,000 individuals have scheduled an appointment via the CBP One mobile application through the end of March, and the top nationalities who have done so are Mexican, Venezuelan and Haitian. In March, CBP processed 22,865 individuals at ports of entry as exceptions to Title 42 based on an individual vulnerability assessment using the newly available functionality in the CBP One app. The high demand for these appointments has meant that not all individuals seeking appointments have yet been able to schedule them, but the transition of the exceptions process to CBP One allows more open access and has provided immediate benefits in reducing the exploitation of vulnerable persons seeking to present at ports of entry.

The large number of appointments scheduled via CBP One in recent months was made possible through the identification of process improvements and implementation of a number of software updates that fixed earlier reported technical difficulties. For example, CBP addressed reported challenges related to geolocation and error messages due to bandwidth issues with a third-party software for liveness. Also, CBP One’s undocumented noncitizen scheduling functionality is now available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. It is important, however, for users to approve location services when prompted in the application or they will be unable to schedule an appointment. CBP will continue to enhance the CBP One application as additional improvement opportunities arise.

CBP Nationwide Total Encounters for FY23TD through March: 1,544,087

Ongoing Migration Management Efforts

CBP continues to enforce U.S. immigration law and public health authority and apply consequences to those without a legal basis to remain in the United States. Current restrictions at the U.S. border have not changed; single adults and families encountered at the Southwest border will continue to be expelled, where appropriate, under the CDC’s Title 42 public health Order. Once the Title 42 public health Order is no longer in place, CBP will process all individuals encountered at the border using its longstanding Title 8 authorities.

Under Title 8, those who attempt to enter the United States without authorization, and who are unable to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be quickly removed.  Individuals who have been removed under Title 8 are also subject to additional long-term consequences beyond removal from the United States, including bars to future immigration benefits.

DHS has been executing a comprehensive and deliberate strategy to secure our borders and build a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system. The strategy is based on six pillars: surging resources; increasing efficiency to reduce strain on the border; employing an aggressive consequence regime; bolstering the capacity of NGOs and partner with state and local partners; going after cartels and smugglers; and working with our regional partners. This comprehensive plan leverages a whole-of-government approach to prepare for and manage the current and anticipated increases in encounters of noncitizens at our Southwest border. Read more here.

International Travel and Trade

One of CBP’s core mission objectives is to enhance the nation’s economic prosperity, including through the facilitation of lawful trade and travel. CBP continues to protect America’s national and economic security by facilitating legitimate trade while rigorously enforcing U.S. customs laws and regulations.

March 2022
Change from 
March 2023March 2023
Change from March
% March 2023 Change from March
Travelers Arriving by Air2,851,0197,579,337165.85%10,637,934273.13%40.35%
PassengerVehicles Processed at Ports of Entry4,998,9796,813,68836.30%7,965,74359.35%16.91%
Pedestrian Travelers2,345,3663,457,00147.40%3,771,84360.82%9.11%
Commercial Trucks1,136,0741,165,1472.56%1,167,3512.75%0.19%

 Since travel restrictions were eased on November 8, 2021, CBP has processed increased numbers of arriving travelers without any significant delays. The rules allow noncitizen, non-lawful permanent resident travelers seek to enter the United States for non-essential travel via land ports of entry and ferry terminals, provided they are fully vaccinated and have appropriate documentation. The guidelines also allow most non-immigrants (non-U.S. citizens and other covered persons) who are fully vaccinated to travel by air to the United States, regardless of the reason for travel.

 CBP tracks traveler numbers and wait times and continuously adjusts as needed to make the travel experience more efficient. Travelers can plan by doing the following:

  • Have a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative document, such as a passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, or Enhanced Tribal Card.
  • Possess proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDCwebsite. 
  • Verbally attest to their travel intent and COVID-19 vaccination status.
  • Be prepared to present any documents requested by the CBP officer.

Trade Stats/Seizures – Protecting the American Consumer

CBP works diligently with the trade community and port operators to ensure that merchandise is cleared as efficiently as possible. CBP works with the trade community to strengthen international supply chains and improve border security. There are several programs by which CBP works with importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers to advance information about the shipments and expedite the inspection process at the ports of entry. CBP is available to conduct exams and is ready and willing to expand hours of operations if necessary to meet the growing demand for imported goods.

In March 2023, CBP processed more than 2.7 million entry summaries valued at more than $274 billion, identifying estimated duties of nearly $6.1 billion to be collected by the U.S. government. In March, trade via the ocean environment accounted for more than 38.27percent of the total import value, followed by air, truck, and rail.

In March 2023, CBP identified 400 shipments valued at more than $122.7 million for further examination based on the suspected use of forced labor, and which may be subject to a Withhold Release Order, Forced Labor Finding, or the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act’s rebuttable presumption, and prohibited importation into the United States under 19 U.S.C. § 1307.

Intellectual property rights violations continue to put America’s innovation economy at risk. Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threaten the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, the livelihoods of American workers, and the health and safety of consumers.

In March 2023, CBP seized 1,798 shipments that contained counterfeit goods valued at more than $335 million.

CBP completed 29 audits that identified $24.7 million in duties and fees owed to the U.S. government, stemming from goods that had been improperly declared in accordance with U.S. trade laws and customs regulations.  CBP collected over $33.1 million of this identified revenue and from previous fiscal years’ assignments. 

Drug Seizures

CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine Operations agents continue to interdict the flow of illicit narcotics across the border. Nationwide, drug seizures (Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Heroin, Fentanyl, and Marijuana) by weight increased 30% in March compared to February. Seizures by weight were as follows:

  • Cocaine seizures increased 128%
  • Methamphetamine increased 22% 
  • Heroin seizures increased 15%
  • Fentanyl seizures increased 25%

Additional CBP drug seizure statistics can be found here.

On Friday, DHS announced that in its first month, Operation Blue Lotus and the complementary Operation Four Horseman have seized more than 5,000 lbs of fentanyl in their first month.

Agriculture Stats/Seizures – Securing American Agriculture

In March 2023, CBP agriculture specialists helped protect America’s agriculture, natural resources, and economic prosperity.

  • CBP issued 6,467 emergency action notifications for restricted and prohibited plant and animal products entering the United States.
  • CBP conducted 93,463 positive passenger inspections and issued 661 civil penalties and/or violations to the traveling public for failing to declare prohibited agriculture items.
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