The number of migrants taken into U.S. custody along the border with Mexico decreased for a third consecutive month in October after skyrocketing this summer, according to government data published on Monday.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded over 164,000 migrant apprehensions in October — a 23% percent drop from July when border arrests reached a 21-year high.
Roughly 57% of the migrants encountered by U.S. border agents in October were expelled to Mexico or their homelands under a Trump-era emergency policy known as Title 42 that the Biden administration has retained.
The public health law, which was invoked by the Trump administration in March 2020, has allowed U.S. border officials to expel migrants without giving them a chance to see an immigration judge or an asylum officer. In October, U.S. officials expelled migrants over 93,600 times using the Title 42 authority.
The overall expulsions figure does not equal the number of individual migrants taken into custody since many try to enter the U.S. more than once and are processed multiple times. Nearly 30% of the migrants encountered in October had been previously processed by U.S. authorities in the past 12 months, CBP said.
Approximately 70,000 of the migrants who entered U.S. border custody in October were processed under immigration laws and allowed to seek asylum; though it is unclear how many of them requested protection, the CBP data show.
The steady decline in border apprehensions over the past three months is largely due to a marked reduction in the number of unaccompanied children and families entering U.S. custody.
U.S. agents stopped parents and children traveling as families over 42,000 times in October, a 48% decrease from July. The number of unaccompanied children processed by the U.S. fell below 13,000 — a 32% drop from the monthly record set in July.
Unlike the Trump administration, the Biden administration has not used Title 42 to expel unaccompanied children. It is instead transferring them to government-overseen shelters, as required by a 2008 anti-trafficking law.
While some families with children were expelled in October, most were placed in regular deportation proceedings and allowed to seek U.S. asylum.
Apprehensions of migrant adults traveling without children have decreased slightly, but remain high, in part because of the significant rate of repeat crossing attempts among border-crossers who are expelled under Title 42.
Over 73% of the 108,000 arrests of single adult migrants in October led to Title 42 expulsions, according to the CBP data.
Highlighting the drop in border apprehensions, Troy Miller, the interim head of CBP, said the Biden administration is focused on disrupting the work of smugglers, who facilitate the journeys of many migrants after charging them significant sums of money.
“CBP’s workforce continues to work with partners across the federal government and throughout the hemisphere to disrupt the smugglers intent on exploiting vulnerable migrants for profit,” Miller said in a statement.
Cris Ramón, an independent immigration policy analyst, said increased enforcement efforts by Mexican migration officials could be partly responsible for the steady decrease in the number of migrants reaching the southern U.S. border. He noted that Mexico has recorded an increase in migrant apprehensions in recent months, even as the number of crossings along the U.S. border has decreased.
“Mexico is definitely playing an even more pronounced role in controlling migration into its territory and up to the U.S.-Mexico border,” Ramón said.
Migrants from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala made up 65% of the border apprehensions in October. The vast majority of the remaining migrants hailed from Venezuela, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Brazil and Cuba.
Apprehensions of Ecuadorians and Haitians plummeted in October. CBP reported apprehending migrants from Ecuador 744 times — an 89% decrease from September.
After recording over 17,600 encounters of Haitians in September, U.S. border officials took 902 Haitian migrants into custody in October — a 94% drop.
The sharp decline that occurred after the sudden arrival of thousands of Haitians to a squalid encampment in Del Rio, Texas, garnered international headlines. The U.S. then launched an unprecedented deportation blitz to the destitute Caribbean country, expelling 8,500 Haitians in just a few weeks.
Those mass deportations were carried out under the Title 42 coronavirus-era edict, which advocates for asylum-seekers have decried as draconian and illegal.
While it initially planned to wind down the mass expulsions over the summer, the Biden administration has said the policy is needed to curb the spread of the coronavirus inside migrant holding sites.
Source: CBS News