The number of migrants detained by U.S. authorities at the Mexico border rose 36% in May, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures released Friday. CBP took 23,118 migrants into custody last month, up from 16,966 in April, the figures show. Border arrests typically rise in late spring as U.S. seasonal labor demands increase, but last month’s totals were still far below the figures recorded in May 2019, when 144,116 were detained at the peak of last year’s border crisis.
The uptick at the border last month occurred despite the administration’s continued application of emergency restrictions that have suspended normal immigration proceedings and allowed for the rapid removal of nearly every migrant who crosses into the United States illegally.
Those emergency health orders, which CBP refers to as Title 42, allowed the agency to expel 19,707 border crossers last month, including minors and asylum seekers who are no longer afforded additional legal protections. The Trump administration argues the emergency measures have aided in preventing a wider coronavirus outbreak by limiting the number of detainees held in cramped border cells.
Mexican single adults now account for the largest share of those taken into custody in recent months, in contrast with last year’s historic border surge, which was driven primarily by Central American families. According to CBP data, 82% of migrants encountered by the agency last month were Mexican nationals, while just 13% were from Central America’s Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. A year earlier, those numbers were almost the reverse: 72% of detainees were from the Northern Triangle and 16% from Mexico.
Trump has extended the emergency restrictions at the border indefinitely, in addition to issuing an executive order blocking several categories of visa applicants from seeking green cards overseas. White House officials are debating a second executive order that could freeze nonimmigrant work visas for up to six months, according to two administration officials who were not authorized to comment publicly, but a final decision on the scope of that decree has not been made, as reported by the Texas Tribune.
Updated: Mon, Jun 29th 2020 @ 1:20pm EDT