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The number of people encountered by federal law enforcement while attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally barely dropped in August, remaining near the highest level in more than two decades.
Data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday shows 208,887 people were stopped along the 2,000-mile southern border as they attempted to sneak in between ports of entry or were denied admission at inspection booths. The large majority tried to get across the border in areas without a border wall.
The number is four times higher than the 50,014 people encountered in August 2020 and three times greater than the 62,707 encounters in July 2019, according to CBP statistics.
The 208,887 is down 2% from 212,672 in July, which was the highest in 21 years. However, it is far more than the 78,000 encounters in January when President Joe Biden took office and began rolling back former President Donald Trump's border and immigration policies. The number of illegal crossings at the border has climbed for the past 17 months after dropping dramatically at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
It has risen at a faster rate in the first six months of Biden's tenure than any time in recent history.
Of the 208,887 people encountered at the border last month, 195,558 were stopped by Border Patrol agents between ports of entry. Of the 208,887, approximately 103,500 were single adults, 86,400 were families, and 18,800 were children with an adult guardian.
"What does the number mean? Right now, because CBP is overwhelmed: An American teenager is getting hooked on cartel fentanyl. A woman is being raped in a stash house. A little girl is stuffed in a trunk being trafficked up I-35N. It's been months; Biden clearly just doesn't care," Rep. Chip Roy, a Texas Republican, wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
Despite pandemic policies that require all adults and families to be sent back across the border to Mexico or their country of origin, the Biden administration turned away fewer than half of the 195,000 — approximately 92,000. The remaining 103,000 people were taken into custody and were either released into the United States or await deportation.
Over the past decade, only 30,000 to 50,000 people have been encountered illegally crossing the southern border a month. The last time this many people were seen on the border was March 2000, according to federal data.
Encounters stood at 74,000 in December 2020, weeks before Biden took office. They surpassed 172,000 in March and 178,000 in April as Biden eased border policies. Border Patrol made 180,000 encounters in June and 188,000 in July. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told reporters at a press conference in August that South Texas saw 60% of known illegal crossings.
The government’s fiscal year started last October. Since then, CBP data shows 1.54 million people have attempted to get across the southern border, compared to 458,000 in fiscal 2020 and 977,000 in 2019.
Biden initially explained the uptick in illegal migration this spring as “seasonal.” Still, the numbers have continued to spike this summer when fewer migrants have historically been apprehended at the border because the hot temperatures act as a deterrent.
This spring, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas rolled out the Biden administration's four-prong plan to stem the flow of migrants illegally entering the country. This included addressing root causes that lead people to leave their home countries, rebuilding the asylum process, improving border security management, and taking down smugglers.
To date, the Biden administration has not made substantive progress in any of the four areas.
Under the Biden administration, most families and children from countries other than Mexico are released into the U.S. and avoid court proceedings deciding whether they will be returned for illegally crossing. These proceedings can be delayed for years due to a backlog of cases that exceeds 1 million.
That backlog is expected to grow due to the Biden administration airlifting tens of thousands of Afghans into the U.S. over the past month.
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Original Author: Anna Giaritelli