Were ‘More Than 1,000,000,000’ Immigrants Arrested at the U.S. Border in Six Months?

A right-wing congresswoman from Arizona posted — then quickly deleted — a tweet attempting to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment while also failing at math.

“Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 1,000,000,000 migrants at our southern border in just 6 months,” Rep. Debbie Lesko wrote on April 19 2022. “President Biden’s open border policies are fueling this crisis!”

Lesko’s claim that more than one billion people had been arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border was linked to a Wall Street Journal story placing the actual number at one million people between October 2021 and April 2022 — a far smaller number than in her claim.

According to the story:

The numbers included a sharp rise in migrants from Cuba and Ukraine. About 32,271 Cubans crossed illegally at the border in March alone—almost as high as the 38,390 Cubans who crossed in all of the last fiscal year. So far this year, 79,377 Cubans have crossed the border illegally.

Nearly 5,000 Ukrainians were allowed to enter the country on temporary humanitarian grounds, primarily at a border checkpoint near San Diego.

The article also reported that around 51 percent of the people arrested were expelled from the U.S. under the policy known as “Title 42,” which was enacted by the administration of disgraced former United States President Donald Trump and used to deport asylum seekers under the pretext of concerns over public health.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has announced that it would lift the policy on May 23 2022, prompting a group of both Democratic and Republican members of the Senate to introduce a bill seeking to delay that order for an additional 60 days.

Lesko botched her claim just a day after promoting another story saying that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had arrested more than 221,000 immigrants at the southern U.S. border in March 2022:

As is often the case, Lesko’s claim that the border is somehow “open” as thousands of people are arrested each month crossing it is regurgitated disinformation. It also ignored this statement from the Wall Street Journal reporting:

Even with Title 42 in place, the Biden administration presided over the highest number of arrests made at the border on record last year.

For fiscal year 2021, however, southern border arrests did decrease by 28 percent compared to 2020 as Biden’s administration focused more on “threats to border security” than on people without criminal records.