US border arrests rise to 20-year high with one million migrants detained in six months

Many of those detained were trying to re-enter US after being expelled under pandemic-era public health rule Title 42

Io Dodds
San Francisco
Tuesday 19 April 2022 13:17
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<p>An asylum seeker from Russia requesting political asylum in El Paso, Texas, on 14 April 2022</p>

An asylum seeker from Russia requesting political asylum in El Paso, Texas, on 14 April 2022

Arrests and expulsions by US officials at the Mexican border have risen to their highest level in at least two decades, with more than one million migrants detained in the past six months.

Statistics released by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) showed that its agents made 209,906 arrests along the country’s southern border in March, on top of 803,607 since October, making for a six month total of 1,013,513.

That was the fastest pace of arrests at the Mexican border in 20 years, according to The Wall Street Journal, following a record total of about 1.9 million arrests in 2021.

About 51 per cent of those people were expelled under Title 42, a controversial pandemic rule which allows border agents to turn back migrants as a danger to public health, whether they are caught crossing illegally or arrive seeking asylum at a checkpoint.

During the pandemic, both US president Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump used Title 42 to expel migrants en masse. Mr Biden’s administration is now preparing to lift it as of 23 May.

CBP commissioner Chris Magnus said the end of the rule would probably lead to “an increase in encounters”, but said the agency was “surging personnel and resources to the border” so as to “ensure a humane environment for those being processed”.

The agency also said its arrest figures had been swelled by the higher than usual number of expulsions during the pandemic, meaning 28 per cent of those encountered by agents were seeking re-entry after being deported, compared to 14 per cent before the pandemic.

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