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ICYMI: Report Shows Migration at Southern Border Is Neither Unique to Biden Admin nor Unprecedented

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Earlier this week, the American Immigration Council released a report showing that the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border under the Biden administration is neither unique nor unprecedented. 

In fact, the current rise in border apprehensions can be largely credited to 1) seasonal trends; 2) heightened “push factors;” and 3) the continued enforcement of Title 42, which incentivizes single adults to repeatedly cross the border, inflating the overall border apprehensions number. 

Here are some key findings from the American Immigration Council’s report:

Single Adults Account for Two-Thirds of All 2021 Border Apprehensions, But Title 42 Enforcement Led to Inflated Numbers As They Cross Border More Than Once

  • “The headlines about ‘the highest border encounters in 20 years’ are the result of trends among an entirely different group—single adults—who have been responsible for two-thirds of all border apprehensions in 2021 through March.”
  • “In spring 2020, […] the United States shut its borders to all asylum seekers […] Under Title 42, any single adult or family crossing the border from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador were immediately sent back to Mexico without a deportation order, even if they were seeking asylum.”
  • “Title 42 has not only had a severely negative effect on asylum seekers, it has also led to an increase in people crossing the border more than once, an effect acknowledged by DHS officials. Almost immediately after lockdowns lifted across Mexico and Central America, the number of single adults coming to the border seeking to enter the United States began rising rapidly, from a low of 14,754 in April 2020 to 62,041 in December 2020. Under Title 42, single adults are rapidly processed at the border and sent right back to Mexico without a deportation order. This arrangement has incentivized repeated attempted crossings, and the rate at which people crossed the border multiple times rose from 7% in March 2020 to 40% by October 2020.”
  • “The number of single adults apprehended at the border continued increasing after President Biden took office […] From January to March 2021, driven by seasonal migration patterns on top of the numbers from the previous year, single adult apprehensions rose from 62,560 to 96,628. In total, single adults made up 67% of all encounters during the first three months of 2021.”
  • “The Biden administration continues to rapidly expel most people encountered at the border. In February and March, the first two full months of the Biden administration, 65.6% of all people encountered at the border were expelled under Title 42 […] If the Biden administration continues the practice of expelling most people arriving at the border, apprehension numbers may continue to increase above 2019 levels despite the fact that significantly fewer people are being processed into the country.”

Biden-Harris Administration Continues to Reduce Number of Children in CBP Custody After Increase Began In Final Months Under Trump

  • “In 2020, due to [COVID-19], the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border dropped significantly to a low of 712 in April 2020. These figures began to rise again in the summer of 2020 and increased steadily through the fall, reaching 4,853 in December 2020.”
  • “In March 2021, the number of unaccompanied children peaked at a record 18,890 taken into CBP custody—significantly more than the previous record of 11,861 in May 2019. This caused an enormous bottleneck to build in CBP custody because the government could not transfer them to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) fast enough.”
  • “To get children out of CBP custody, the Biden administration began opening over a dozen ‘emergency influx shelters’ around the country, doubling ORR capacity within a matter of weeks. […] The effort of standing up more than a dozen emergency influx shelters seems to have helped reduce the population of unaccompanied children in CBP custody. The number of children in CBP custody declined from a high of 5,767 on March 28 to a low of 1,741 on April 22.”
  • “On April 21, for the first time since the Biden administration began reporting daily numbers, more unaccompanied children left U.S. custody than entered it, thanks in part to rising numbers of children released to sponsors.”

Number of Families Apprehended In 2021 Is Lower Than the Same Period in 2019 Under Trump’s Harsh Immigration Policies

  • “As with unaccompanied children, the number of families coming to the border grew slowly throughout 2020 and began increasing more rapidly in January 2021 after President Biden took office. However, […] the number of families apprehended at the border in 2021 remains lower than the same period in 2019.”
  • “However, DHS is unable to expel most families in part because of a change in Mexican policy, not U.S. policy. […] The Mexican government has refused to accept the expulsion of some families, especially in the state of Tamaulipas which borders the Rio Grande Valley.”
  • “When considering the number of families expelled at the border, significantly fewer families are being admitted into the United States in 2021 to seek asylum than were admitted in 2019.”
  • “There have been spikes in arrivals at the border in 2014, 2016, 2019, and now 2021. Even family separation in 2018 did not have a significant effect on border encounters, and the numbers of families arriving at the border in 2019 had already begun to decline before the MPP program went into full effect across the border. A new spike was inevitable.”