The Migrant Statistic Joe Biden Didn't Want to See Before the Midterms

The number of arrests of undocumented migrants at the southwestern border passed 2 million in one year for the first time, according to figures released Monday by the federal government.

There were 2.1 million arrests during the first 11 months of the 2022 fiscal year, which ends September 30, a figure that is unwelcome news for President Joe Biden ahead of the crucial midterm elections. Republicans have sought to make the border a major issue in the midterms, with the GOP hoping to take control of both the House and the Senate in November.

White House officials gave a background briefing to reporters on Monday ahead of the release of the official figures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB). They said there had been more than 1.3 million removals of undocumented migrants in the past year. That's more than any previous year.

However, the record number of arrests will almost certainly give Republicans more reason to criticize the Biden administration's approach to the border. GOP governors have already brought increased national attention to the immigration issue by transporting migrants to parts of the country generally considered "blue" and dominated by Democrats.

Joe Biden Meets Cyril Ramaphosa
President Joe Biden looks on during a meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in the Oval Office on September 16. Recent figures on the arrest of undocumented migrants could be used by Republicans in November's midterm elections. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent two planes carrying undocumented migrants to Massachusetts' Martha's Vineyard in a move that has been highly criticized and led to speculation he could order further flights.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, meanwhile, has sent migrants by bus to Washington, D.C., as well as Chicago and New York. In one case, some migrants were sent to Vice President Kamala Harris' official residence in D.C.

In a statement on Monday, CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus pointed to the migrants coming from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

"Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest U.S. border," he said.

The number of migrants coming from those countries had risen 175 percent in August of this year, compared with August 2021.

Biden and the Democrats have seen a recent upswing in the polls, with the president's approval rating rising and his party's chances of keeping both the House and Senate looking better.

Poll tracker FiveThirtyEight sees the Democrats as favored to win the Senate. While the GOP remains favored to win the House, the party's lead has narrowed over the past month. Republicans' chances of taking the House are currently 71 in 100, but on August 20 they were 78 in 100, according to FiveThirtyEight's analysis.

Biden's approval rating hit an 11-month high in an NBC poll released Sunday. The survey showed that 45 percent of registered voters approve of the job the president is doing.

Ahead of the midterms, Democrats may wish to campaign on issues like their recent accomplishments in Congress and their support for abortion rights after the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court. But immigration has dominated political news in recent days as a result of DeSantis' and Abbott's actions.

If the transporting of migrants in this way continues—combined with the recent CPB figures from CBP—immigration could become a significant midterms issue, with Republicans using it to criticize both the Biden administration and Democratic candidates for the House and Senate.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.