Sept. 20 (UPI) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have documented more than 2 million encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border so far this fiscal year, according to newly released statistics.

Though the fiscal year ends with the completion of this month, officials announced Monday that they have already counted more than 2.15 million encounters at the U.S. border, which exceeds the 1.73 million documented for all of last year.

The number includes arrests but also migrants who were processed and expelled under Title 42, a COVID-19-era border protection, which has seen nearly 1 million of those migrants and asylum seekers counted this year turned away.

CBP began incorporating Title 42 explosions in its count from March of 2020.

In August, officials tabulated 203,598 encounters at the southwest land border, a 1.7% increase compared to a month earlier, CBP said in a release Monday, adding that of those migrants and asylum seekers, 22% had at least one prior encounter in the past 12 months.

The large number of unique individual encounters was driven largely by an increase in asylum seekers fleeing authoritarian regimes in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, which accounted for 35% of all encounters and an increase of 175% from a year earlier.

Those from Mexico and northern Central America were down for the third month in a row in August and accounted for 36% of all encounters, CBP said.

“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 border,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement.

Magnus attributed the drop in encounters with those from Mexico and Central America to Biden administration policies and its work with partners in the region “to address the root causes of migration, facilitate repatriation and take thousands of smugglers off the streets.”

The increasing number of encounters at the U.S. southern border amid the Biden administration has been a target for criticism for the Republican Party, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott resorting to sending migrants to northern states in protest.

President Joe Biden campaigned on undoing much of his predecessor’s border policies and implementing his own “fair and humane” immigration system.

He has also sought to combat corruption in Central and South American nations, citing it as one of the driving factors fueling irregular immigration.

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