New data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shows a recent increase in the number of encounters at American borders with Russian nationals.
Since illegal immigration at the country’s borders remains a major issue for President Joe Biden, the upwards trend of agents encountering Russian migrants represents another way in which Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s war in Ukraine has potentially affected Biden.
CBP data shows there were 36,271 encounters with Russians in the year 2022. However, that data is based on a fiscal year that ended in September. In October, agents encountered 5,177 Russians at the borders, while the CBP recorded an additional 6,920 encounters with Russians in November. Since 2020, the CBP had only recorded more than 4,000 encounters with Russians in one month before October, which came in May 2022 with 4,354.
Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of his military in September and told a news conference a month later around 222,000 Russians had already been drafted. No numbers are available for how many potential draftees fled Russia, but The New York Times estimated that “hundreds of thousands of men are gone.”
The CBP numbers for encounters with Russian migrants also cannot draw a direct parallel to draft dodgers, but the encounters increased after the conscription announcement.
The data from CBP represents the northern land border along Canada and the Southwest land border along Mexico, as well as migrants entering the U.S. by air and sea. When analyzing only the figures for the southern border, the CBP reported 21,763 encounters with Russian nationals in the area in the fiscal year 2022, up from the previous year’s 4,103 encounters.
The data of increased Russian encounters comes as border issues have been forefront in the news, especially after the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled to keep Title 42 in place.
Title 42, a border closure policy enacted during former President Donald Trump‘s administration, has been credited with keeping thousands of undocumented migrants from entering the country. However, Title 42 has also been criticized for not allowing asylum-seekers entry into the U.S., and human rights advocates have said abuses of migrants have occurred due to the policy.
Biden pushed to end Title 42, which resulted in an outcry from many Republican lawmakers. Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri were among those who condemned the efforts to strike down the policy.
“What has the Biden Administration done to prepare for the massive surge of illegals at the border—the one THEIR policies are causing? Nothing,” Hawley tweeted earlier this month.
The problem at the border has routinely been referred to as a “crisis,” and it’s been an issue for Biden since early in his administration. Soon after Biden took office, the CBP reported nearly 200,000 encounters with migrants along the border with Mexico in July 2021, the highest monthly total in 21 years.
Immigration also remains a major concern for American citizens. A Gallup poll released earlier this month found immigration ranked fourth in a “most important problems” survey, placing behind only “government,” “high cost of living/inflation” and “economy in general.”
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.