Border officials encountered a record high number of migrants attempting to illegally cross the U.S. border from September 2020 through September 2021, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Immigration officials recorded more than 1.7 million encounters with migrants attempting to illegally enter the U.S. at the southern border in the fiscal year 2021, and Border Patrol agents made a record number of arrests, according to data obtained by the Post.
The number of migrants attempting to illegally enter the U.S. started increasing in April 2020 and shot up after President Joe Biden took office, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data. Biden attributed the increased traffic to historic seasonal patterns, but border officials encountered more than 610,000 migrants attempting to enter the U.S. from June through August when traffic usually declines, the Post reported.
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, Biden’s pick to lead CBP, said the increased traffic at the southern border has been a “significant challenge” but wouldn’t call the situation a crisis during a Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, according to the Post. Magnus added that “the numbers are very high.”
CBP is expected to release the data for the fiscal year 2021 later this week, according to the Post.
The Biden administration has been criticized for its approach to immigration policies, the Post reported. Biden’s campaign promises included a welcoming approach to immigrants, though he planned to be cautious so that migrants wouldn’t surge across the border.
Administration officials initially blamed former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and the COVID-19 pandemic for the increase in traffic, but migrants have said they chose to come to the U.S. now because they heard that the Biden administration will allow them to stay in the U.S., according to the Post.
Vice President Kamala Harris was appointed to address the “root causes” of migration from Central America, but her work has shown no measurable effect at the southern border, the Post reported. CBP arrested over 608,000 Mexican nationals during the 2021 fiscal year, the overwhelming majority of migrants apprehended at the border.
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