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US CBP Releases September 2021 Monthly Operational Update

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today released operational statistics for September 2021, which can be viewed online here.

“CBP encounters along the Southwest border declined in September from the prior month, and a majority of noncitizens encountered were expelled under Title 42. The men and women of CBP continued to rise admirably to the challenge, despite the strain associated with operating during a global pandemic that has claimed far too many lives among our frontline personnel,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller. “In September, CBP continued its tireless efforts to facilitate a return to normal trade and travel, which has been vital to America’s economic rebound from the pandemic. Passenger vehicle and pedestrian travel, as well as air traffic, continue to be significantly higher than during comparable periods from the height of the pandemic in 2020, with commercial truck transit higher than pre-pandemic levels. CBP will continue its work to ensure safety and security at our borders, while managing a fair and orderly immigration system, and facilitating the legitimate trade and travel that is vital to the American economy.”

CBP Enforcement Numbers for September 2021

The large number of expulsions during the pandemic has contributed to a larger-than-usual number of migrants making multiple border crossing attempts, which means that total encounters somewhat overstate the number of unique individuals arriving at the border. 

  • The number of unique encounters in September 2021 was 142,710, a 9% reduction in unique encounters from the prior month.
  • In total, there were 192,001 encounters along the Southwest border, a 9% decrease compared to August. Of those, 26% 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.
  • Over half (59%) of encounters were single adults, with 113,030 encounters in September, a 9% increase compared to August.
  • 102,673 encounters, more than 53% of the total, were processed for expulsion under Title 42. 89,238 encounters were processed under Title 8.
    • 84,911 encounters involving single adults (75% of all single adult encounters) were processed for expulsion under Title 42, with 28,119 processed under Title 8.
    • 17,599 encounters involving family unit individuals (27% of all family unit individuals) were processed for expulsion under Title 42, with 46,789 processed under Title 8.

Unaccompanied Children

  • Encounters of unaccompanied children decreased 24%, with 14,358 encounters in September compared with 18,806 in August. In September, the average number of unaccompanied children in CBP custody was 772 per day, compared with an average of 1,435 per day in August.

Family Unit individuals

  • Encounters of family unit individuals decreased by 26% from 86,631 in August to 64,388 in September—well below the peak of 88,587 encounters in May 2019. 

In September 2021, the Department of Homeland Security surged resources to respond to a large number of migrants who converged at the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas. In less than one week, the population under the bridge was reduced from more than 15,000 to zero. Over the period in between, the Department’s humanitarian and operational response included immediately deploying hundreds of personnel, basic services, food and drinking water, clothing, transportation, and medical resources to ensure the health of the migrants, our personnel, and the surrounding community.

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’s role is vital to America’s economic rebound from the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. CBP continues to protect America’s national and economic security by facilitating legitimate trade while rigorously enforcing U.S. customs laws and regulations. While CBP’s trade and travel numbers have not entirely returned to pre-pandemic levels, they have increased significantly in recent months.

CountFY 2019 
FY 2020
FY 2021 
FY2020Through COVID(Mar-Sept)FY2021
Through COVID
% Change
Commercial Trucks12,041,18911,442,40712,509,6136,547,7557,496,97514.50%

To ensure a smooth, more efficient inspection process at the border, CBP recommends that travelers:

  • Acquire a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) document and/or apply for a trusted traveler program.
  • Use the CBP OneTM mobile application, an intuitive single point of entry for travelers and stakeholders to access CBP mobile applications and services, including obtaining proof of their electronic I-94 form on their mobile device.

CBP encourages Visa Waiver Program travelers seeking to obtain an approved ESTA to take advantage of the time savings offered by using CBP OneTM or the CBP I-94 website. With an ESTA, these travelers can apply for their I-94 in advance of arrival and avoid filling out the Form I-94W at a port of entry.

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 September 2021 alone, CBP processed more than 3 million entry summaries valued at more than $259 billion, identifying estimated duties of nearly $8.4 billion to be collected by the U.S. government.  In September, trade via the air accounted for more than 29% of the total import value, followed by truck, ocean and rail.

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

  • In September 2021, CBP seized 2,073 shipments that contained more than $375 million of counterfeit goods.

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 were down 23% in September. Seizures were as follows:

  • Cocaine seizures increased 11%; 
  • Methamphetamine seizures decreased 46%;
  • Heroin seizures increased 6%;
  • Fentanyl seizures decreased 35%.

Additional CBP drug seizure statistics can be found here.

Agriculture Stats/Seizures – Securing American Agriculture

In September 2021, CBP agriculture specialists helped protect America’s agriculture, natural resources, and economic prosperity.

  • CBP issued 6,245 emergency action notifications for restricted and prohibited plant and animal products entering the United States.
  • CBP conducted 58,073 positive passenger inspections and issued 573 civil penalties and/or violations to the traveling public for failing to declare prohibited agriculture items.

CBP COVID-19 Response

The safety of our workforce, our communities, and individuals in our care is a top priority.  CBP personnel put themselves and their families at risk with every encounter with the public. Since the start of the pandemic:

  • More than 11,900 CBP employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • 49 have passed away.

CBP continues to explore adjustments to workforce posture and health protocols based on widespread vaccine access and easing public health metrics:  

  • CBP provides migrants who can’t be expelled under the CDC’s Title 42 order or are awaiting processing with PPE from the moment they are taken into custody, and migrants are required to keep masks on at all times.
  • CBP works with appropriate agencies that facilitate testing, diagnosis, isolation, and treatment of migrants, including:
    • Local governments and non-governmental organizations for persons released from CBP custody;
    • DHS and ICE for testing of persons to be released from CBP custody, particularly in locations without local government or NGO testing capability; and,
    • HHS for testing of unaccompanied children. 
  • DHS has developed a partnership model to test and isolate families who test positive for COVID-19, and reimburse 100% of the cost, provided that the state does not stand in the way