The number of border apprehensions during the past fiscal year totaled half the amount seen in the previous year, according to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
After a record 978,000 encounters in 2019, CBP reported 458,000 for 2020.
The peak of last year began to decline during the summer months with a drop that acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan attributed to policies of the Trump administration, such as a rule requiring asylum-seekers to initially seek asylum in a country they pass through on their way to the United States.
With the coronavirus pandemic in March, the number of border apprehensions continued to decline, but those numbers have steadily climbed since May and are now higher than the same period last year.
At a press conference looking back at the CBP’s work during the 2020 fiscal year, Morgan cautioned that another increase in attempted illegal border crossings is expected.
“After the pandemic ceases, we will face the same kind of influx of illegal migration that we confronted in 2019. In fact, we’re anticipating it’s likely to be worse due to the deteriorating and worsening economic conditions, not only in Mexico, but in the entire Western Hemisphere, that was exasperated by COVID-19,” said Morgan.
During the press conference, Morgan reiterated that the flow of immigration seen this year has been much different from last year.
While the record high numbers of 2019 were driven in large part by family units traveling from Central American countries, the vast majority of immigrants encountered by border enforcement in 2020 have been single adult men and have mostly been Mexican nationals, according to Morgan.
That change in demographics is reflected in the statistics provided by CBP, which show that 23,000 single adults were apprehended in October 2019, while 47,000 were apprehended last month.
In the CBP regions within Texas, 31,000 out of 36,000 total apprehensions in September were of single adults compared to 14,000 out of 23,000 in October 2019.
The statistics provided by CBP since March have included both Title 8 apprehensions and Title 42 expulsions, the latter of which was implemented by the Trump administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic
Morgan said during the press conference that the Centers for Disease Control will ultimately make the decision on when to end or phase out the use of Title 42 powers.
The acting commissioner also reiterated his praise for the policies implemented by the Trump administration, saying that measures such as “the end of catch and release” and the Migrant Protection Protocols “have been game changers and they have made the difference.”
“The administration message is clear: illegal immigrants will no longer be released into the country, they will no longer be able to abscond without consequences, and they will be quickly returned to their country of origin,” said Morgan.
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