US arrests along the Mexico border topped 2 million in a year for the first time

US authorities have made more than two million arrests along the southern border over the past 11 months, the first time annual enforcement statistics have exceeded this limit, according to figures provided by top Biden administration officials on Monday.

In August, US Customs and Border Protection detained 203,598 immigrants who crossed the border from Mexico, the latest numbers appear, which puts authorities on track to count more than 2.3 million arrests during the government’s 2022 fiscal year, which ends on September 30. The total, which includes some people arrested more than once, exceeds last year’s record of more than 1.7 million arrests.

This year’s historic wave of immigration has been driven by rising numbers of border-crossers from outside Mexico and Central America, the two largest traditional sources of illegal entry. Migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba made up more than a third of those detained along the southern border last month, according to Customs and Border Protection, up 175 percent from August 2021.

Biden administration officials blamed the governments of those countries, whose strained relations with Washington severely limit the authorities’ ability to send deportees there. Many immigrants apply for humanitarian protection in the United States and tend to file strong asylum claims.

“Failed communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in confrontations on the southwestern border of the United States,” Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement. “Those fleeing repressive regimes pose significant challenges in processing and deportation,” he said, using the official term for deportation.

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Biden administration officials continue to insist that they are building a “safe, orderly, and humane” immigration system while blaming the Trump administration for “dismantling” legal immigration channels.

Critics say Biden administration officials have not met their refugee admission goals, and that the number of immigrants who have died this year trying to cross into the United States is at an all-time high. Dozens have drowned in the Rio Grande in recent months, and 53 were killed in June when smugglers in Texas packed migrants into an overheated trailer with a malfunctioning cooling system.

Martha’s Vineyard trips leave immigrant advocates scrambling

Republican lawmakers blame the record number of crossings for President Biden’s reversal of the Trump administration’s border policies. Over the past few months, the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have sent more than 10,000 immigrants on buses to Washington, New York and other northern destinations to pressure Democrats by straining relief services in their jurisdictions.

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) shipped a planeload of Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, taking them to a wealthy island with limited immigrant services.

Biden administration officials also say the high border numbers are being distorted by repeated crossing attempts by previously arrested immigrants. The latest figures show that last month, 22 per cent of those detained had been arrested in the past 12 months.

One factor that Biden administration officials blame for the frequency of the crossings is the Public Health Emergency Act Title 42, which was implemented at the start of the pandemic, which allows US agents to quickly “expel” some immigrants to Mexico. The Biden administration’s attempt to phase out Title 42 was blocked in federal court last spring.

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The latest numbers show that the proportion of border-crossers expelled under Section 42 has fallen and remains much lower under Biden than under President Donald Trump. About 36 percent of 203,598 immigrant “encounters” resulted in expulsion Last monthdown from 83 percent when Biden took office.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex) said Monday that pressure on Democrat-run cities will force the administration to see increase the limits as a crisis. “Maybe, just maybe, they will see that what happens along our borders every day is dangerous and unsustainable, and a problem we need to work together to address,” he said.

Biden officials who defended the border administration’s record cited a decrease in the number of Mexican and Central American immigrants arrested over the past three months as a sign that their enforcement policies are having some success, including efforts to target smuggling organizations in Latin America.

Maria Sachetti contributed to this report.

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