Number of attempted crossings at southern U.S. border hits 21-year high

WASHINGTON — U.S. border agents stopped more than 188,000 immigrants trying to cross the southern U.S. border in June, marking a 21-year high in monthly border crossings, as the Biden administration considers lifting Covid-19 restrictions and allowing more immigrants to claim asylum in the U.S.

The numbers were the highest since March 2000, when more than 223,000 immigrants were stopped by the Border Patrol at the southern border.

Of the 188,829 border crossers in June, nearly 105,000 were expelled back into Mexico without being given the chance to claim asylum in the U.S. due to the government’s use of Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authority used to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Media reports have indicated the Biden administration has drafted plans to end the policy by July 31, and some, including Chief Brian Hastings, head of the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector, have said the end of the policy could spark a rise in migration.

Some of those expelled under Title 42 are returning and have thus been counted twice as border crossers, according to the data released Friday. Thirty four percent of people stopped in June had attempted to cross at least one other time in the past year, as opposed to the average 14 percent re-encounter rate documented between 2014-2019, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

The number of children crossing the border, both with their parents and without, increased in June. Unaccompanied children rose by 8 percent from May, while the number of families rose by 25 percent over the same month. Unaccompanied children crossing the border have presented a challenge for the Biden administration, as they have not subjected children to Title 42 expulsions and must shelter them before they can be matched with sponsors.

The warm temperatures, often soaring above 100 degrees Fahrenheit along the border, have concerned CBP officials.

“We are in the hottest part of the summer, and we are seeing a high number of distress calls to CBP from migrants abandoned in treacherous terrain by smugglers with no regard for human life,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller.