U.S. Customs and Border Protection released its enforcement data for June, counting the number of arrests on the southwest border with Mexico to 188,289 last month and up to 1,119,204 for 2021. The number of arrests that border patrol has made this fiscal year has already surpassed that of 2019 (977,509 arrests) when President Trump faced his own border crisis, and there are still three months left for the year to end.
Out of the 188,289 arrests made in June, a substantial majority (117,602) are single adults while 15,253 of those apprehensions are of unaccompanied minors, and the rest come from individuals in a family unit. It is worth noting that, when compared to May, there was a slight decrease in the number of detentions made to single adults while the number of people who came as a family increased significantly.
A huge majority (768,703) of the over million detentions made by border patrol were made under the Title 42 authority that the U.S Health law gives to government authorities, which allows them to expel individuals who might bring an infectious disease to the country, a resource which has been heavily used due to the COVID pandemic.
The Wall Street Journal, however, reports that the Title 42 provison will be changed in the following weeks as the Biden administration has been under constant pressure by activists to stop using Title 42 in border control.
The trends in border patrol data
The one million number, however, does not mean that over a million people have been intercepted by the U.S border patrol, as there are many individuals who have been apprehended more than once. According to the news release made by CBP, 34% of those who were apprehended by Border Patrol in June have already attempted to do it before in the last year, a significant increase from the 14% average for the 2014-2019 years.
From the more than 180,000 apprehensions made in June, over 124,000 detentions were made to singular individuals, while the rest were people who had already tried to cross before. However, even after taking this nuance in the data into account, 2021 will still shatter the 2019 levels. As of June, there has been a total of 454,944 unique encounters in 2021, not too far of the 489,760 of 2019.
The nationalities of those detained also follow different trends. Almost 77,000 of the detentions come from countries of the so-called “northern triangle”, a slight increase from the 69,049 detentions registered in May of this year. Almost 65,000 Mexican nationals were detained in June, a slight decrease from the 70,917 detained in May.
People from other nationalities, including hundreds of Venezuelans who are now making the dangerous trip up north, represent 47,224 of those detentions. Actually, this is one of the key characteristics that differenti this migrant surge from that in 2019, as today there are far more people from other nationalities who are trying to cross the southern border and reach the U.S.
For example, in June 2019 there were 16,188 detentions of people from other nationalities, while in 2021 that number exploded to 47,224. In fact, as of today there are already almost 71,000 more peopled from other countries detained than in the entirity of 2019.
A political headache
The causes for the migration towards the United States through the southern border are varied and complicated, however, that will not be a good excuse for the President to use when he gets questioned by the GOP over the issue in the campaign trail.
To make matters worst, not only do the structural conditions for mass migration to the U.S continue, but the economic havoc brought by COVID-19 to the developing world have actually make them more acute, additionally the initial steps of the Biden administration to deal with the crisis have actually backfired, with even The Washington Post (hardly a right-wing media outlet) saying the administration was “ill-prepared and lacking the capacity” to deal with the crisis, with a messaging more tailored to “liberal activists” than to the migrants themselves.
The Biden administration has faced a significant challenge in the border crisis, an issue that is already complicated and that has proved to be a headache for many administrations in the past. But the mere size of this year’s crisis will surely bring political challenges to the Democrats as both parties start to think for 2022.