The influx of nearly 7.3 million migrants illegally crossing the southwest border during President Joe Biden’s administration marks a significant moment in U.S. immigration history. This figure, cited by Fox News and based on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, not only surpasses the population of 36 U.S. states but also sets a pace that could break the record for southwest border encounters set in the previous fiscal year.

The total number of encounters since President Biden took office in 2021 amounts to 7,298,486, highlighting a substantial challenge facing the administration and the country. This situation has sparked a heated debate over the handling of border security and immigration policies, with critics arguing that such a surge reflects a deliberate policy choice by the Biden administration to not enforce immigration laws strictly.

Critics, including Eric Ruark of Numbers USA and Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), argue that the administration’s policies, such as catch-and-release and offering temporary work permits, have contributed to this surge by creating a “pull” factor. They contend that these policies effectively aid illegal border crossings and contribute to the human smuggling and trafficking operations managed by Mexican cartels.

In response to the crisis, President Biden has called on Congress to pass new laws that would allow for more effective border management, including provisions for Title 42-style expulsions of migrants and limitations on asylum applications. However, political opposition has stalled these efforts, leading to a stalemate and continued challenges at the border.

The debate over immigration policy and border security is likely to continue as both sides seek solutions to manage the unprecedented number of migrants seeking entry into the U.S. The administration insists it is enforcing the laws while also calling for comprehensive immigration reform to address the root causes of migration and streamline the asylum process.