Though the last fiscal year saw a low number of attempted illegal border crossings due likely to the COVID-19 pandemic, those statistics have steadily increased since April.
CBP recorded 69,000 encounters in October, the highest amount for the month out of the past seven years on record and the highest amount since July 2019, shortly after a record number of illegal immigrant apprehensions waned.
The apprehension rise comes alongside an increase of reported coronavirus cases, both in Mexico and Texas.
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said that the number of encounters was “hardly insignificant under any definition, but especially as our country is still navigating efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
“While Americans are staying at home & practicing social distancing, the [CBP] workforce cannot. Our agents & officers continuously come in contact with tens of thousands of illegal aliens. These aren’t just numbers. These are the lives of the men & women of CBP & their families,” tweeted Morgan.
The El Paso border region, which has faced the sharpest recent surge in COVID-19 cases, saw a 10 percent increase in apprehensions, from 7,900 in September to 8,725 in October.
On average, regions along the southern border suffered a 17 percent increase from September to October.
The Rio Grande region, which had the highest reported number of apprehensions for every month in the last fiscal year, saw the sharpest increase in Texas with 32 percent — rising from 13,300 in September to 17,500 in October.
Apprehensions in Texas regions alone rose from 36,000 to 44,000, while apprehensions across the entire southern border rose from 55,000 to 66,000.
Since the pandemic began, CBP has reported border apprehension statistics under two different enforcement policies.
Prior to the pandemic, they only used the standard apprehension laws under Title 8 of the U.S. Code. But with the public health orders issued under Title 42, CBP has immediately expelled “certain persons who potentially pose a health risk” to their country of last transit instead of holding them in “congregant areas for processing.”
The majority of enforcement actions since the spring has been taken under Title 42.
In October, of the near 70,000 reported encounters, 60,000 were recorded under the public health order.
At the end of October, the CBP also announced that it had completed 400 miles of new border wall construction and expects to reach 450 miles by the end of the year.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Associated Press’s projected winner of the presidential election, stated that he does not support the continued construction of a new border wall.
“Building a wall will do little to deter criminals and cartels seeking to exploit our borders. Instead of stealing resources from schools for military children and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, Biden will direct federal resources to smart border enforcement efforts, like investments in improving screening infrastructure at our ports of entry, that will actually keep America safer,” the Biden campaign states on its website.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.