Political News

After spike in 2019, border encounters return to levels seen throughout Trump administration

Posted October 14, 2020 1:30 p.m. EDT

— Customs and Border Protection encountered more than 458,000 people in fiscal year 2020, marking a sharp decline from 2019 but not straying far from previous years despite the Trump administration's increasingly aggressive immigration enforcement posture.

The number of encounters -- meaning people illegally crossing the border or presenting at a port of entry -- at the US-Mexico border has been viewed as a metric of this administration's immigration policies.

The Trump administration has relied on deterring migrants from coming to the southern border through controversial policies like the "zero tolerance" policy that led to the separation of thousands of families and returning asylum seekers to Mexico while they await immigration court proceedings in the US.

Yet despite these measures, hundreds of thousands of migrants, many of them families and children, journeyed to the southern border last year and continue to come though there's been a shift in demographic makeup. Single adult males from Mexico accounted for 56% of migrants encountered this year, according to CBP.

According to newly released data, Border Patrol arrested 400,651 people who crossed the border illegally between last October, the start of the fiscal year, to September, a drop from fiscal year 2019, when 851,508 people were arrested at the US-Mexico border. But this year's Border Patrol stats are slightly higher from fiscal year 2018, when 396,579 people were arrested and just under fiscal year 2017's 303,916.

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan has previously dismissed the gradual uptick in recent months, arguing that as a result of a public health law, implemented in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the administration is able to swiftly remove migrants who are apprehended -- a move that's been challenged in court and criticized by immigrant advocates and lawmakers.

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