US Troops Guard the Border
US National Guard troops reinforce a barbed-wire fence along the Rio Grande river as migrants look for a way to enter the United States AFP

Border Patrol officers arrested almost a quarter of a million people in December for crossing into the U.S. illegally, the highest figure on record, as migration to the country continues to climb, the agency reported.

Concretely, 249,785 arrests were tallied in the southern border in December, 31% more than the previous month and over 10% above the previous record, which had taken place in December 2022 when 222,018 people were apprehended.

Mexicans and Venezuelans comprised over 100,000 of the arrests, with the former being on top of the list. Guatemalans, Hondurans and Colombians completed the top five nationalities. Tucson, Arizona, and Del Rio, Texas, were the areas where the most arrests took place.

Arrests have already fallen considerably in January, in line with historical trends "and enhanced enforcement," Customs and Border Protection said in a statement reported by ABC News. The agency had said previously that a crackdown by Mexican authorities had contributed to the decline as well.

Immigration enforcement is at the center of the political conversation in the U.S., especially whether an agreement between Democrats and Republicans in Congress can be passed in the following days.

Tensions emerged between Republican lawmakers during the past days following pressure from former president Donald Trump to tank the deal on border security, as negotiators from both parties said they were getting closer to an agreement.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump AP Photo/Alex Brandon

According to Senator Mitt Romney, one of the high-profile Republican officials who is at odds with Trump, the former president doesn't want the deal to go forward to continue using it as a talking point during the campaign trail.

President Joe Biden further pressured Republicans to pass the deal, saying that is willing to exercise the ability to shut down the border if it's passed.

"What's been negotiated would —if passed into law— be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we've ever had in our country," Biden said. "It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed. And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law."

Trump, on his end, criticized the agreement on his social media platform. Republicans should not "do a Border Deal, at all, unless we get EVERYTHING," he said on Truth Social.

"Just 3 years ago we had the strongest and safest Border in U.S. History. Today we have a catastrophe waiting to happen," and resorted to his usual claims that "terrorists are pouring in, unchecked from all over the world," he added in a separate post.

Border security has become a salient talking point for Republicans, who have criticized Biden for what they claim is a lax approach to the border. And it is likely to have an electoral impact as well, as a recent NBC News poll showed that 74 percent of all people surveyed agreed with the need to bolster funding for border security.

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