Border apprehensions rise despite deadly summer heat

Border apprehensions rise despite deadly summer heat
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U.S. authorities reported almost 200,000 migrant encounters at the southwest border last month, pushing the number of apprehensions for the fiscal year past the 1 million mark, according to figures released Friday by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The number of June encounters was the highest monthly total since March 2000, though the number of migrants apprehended was similar to spring 2019 figures, suggesting repeated attempts to cross the border last month.

The June apprehension numbers exceeded the previous month by 4.5 percent, a somewhat unexpected increase since illegal border crossings typically decline in the hotter months.

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"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 in a statement Friday.

“Although CBP does everything it can to locate and rescue individuals who are lost or distressed, the bottom line is this: the terrain along the border is extreme, the summer heat is severe, and the miles of desert migrants must hike after crossing the border in many areas are unforgiving.”

Since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, U.S. authorities have apprehended 1,119,204 individuals at the border.

The new numbers are certain to fuel more GOP attacks against President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden For families, sending money home to Cuba shouldn't be a political football MORE's border policies. Republicans have largely called for a return to former President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE’s hard-line immigration policies, including construction of a border wall.

The Biden administration has struggled to address the border surge, and it is seen as a vulnerability for many Democrats heading into next year’s midterm elections.

The CBP figures show that last month’s increase was due in large part to encounters with citizens of countries other than Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

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In June, U.S. authorities encountered 47,224 such migrants, a 16 percent increase from May and a nearly 300 percent increase since February.

The reasons for rising migration from different parts of the world vary, and in many cases are attributable to instability in migrants' home countries.

For example, U.S. authorities encountered 6,042 Haitians at the border in June, more than double the 2,939 encountered in May. Those numbers represent Haitian migration before the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7.

Border authorities encountered 76,751 migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, about half of whom were traveling as families, compared to 69,049 encountered in May.

The number of Mexican migrants decreased overall — the 64,854 Mexicans encountered accounted for about a third of all border apprehensions in June. In May, that number was 70,917.

A majority of all Mexicans encountered were subject to a statute known as Title 42, meaning they were quickly sent back to Mexico.

Title 42 is one of the last remnants of Trump's border policies. It allows U.S. authorities to quickly expel undocumented migrants for public health reasons, in this case the coronavirus pandemic.

The Biden administration has defended its use of Title 42, but officials have come under pressure to amend or eliminate the policy.

In all, 104,907 people were apprehended under Title 42 last month, down from 113,198 in May.

Part of the criticism of Title 42 has been that it fosters recidivism, as migrants expelled into Mexico without further consequences can easily reattempt crossing the border.

According to CBP, 34 percent of the migrants encountered in June had attempted at least one other crossing since October. The average rate of attempted reentry in prior years was 14 percent.

Because of the high rate of recidivism, CBP said, fewer individuals have been apprehended this year than at the same point in 2019, despite the higher number of overall encounters.