Illegal border crossings skyrocket to all-time high, new data shows

Over the past year, there has been a significant increase in the number of migrants – mostly families – from Brazil, which has been gripped by the worst Covid crisis in South America. Other migrants have also arrived from Venezuela, Nicaragua and India, among others.

Apprehensions at the southern border had reached such high levels by the late 1990s, peaking in 2000, when many migrants who entered the country illegally were lured into jobs in construction, food processing and restaurants.

Like last year, most of those who entered were single adults from Mexico. Many of them have tried more than once to sneak into the country, usually until they are successful because they did not face significant legal consequences, said Jessica Bolter, analyst at Migration Policy. Institute. She added that there were “many incentives for migrants to try to cross again and again”.

When the Trump administration first invoked the current public health rule, known as Title 42, officials said it was necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. But it had the unintended consequence of encouraging hundreds of thousands of desperate people to make repeated attempts to enter the country. Many people subject to the rule are sent back to Mexico quickly, often by bus, to try again a few days later.

Before the public health rule was put in place at the start of the pandemic, migrants caught entering the country without permission could be prosecuted and detained for months.

In September, about 25% of arrests were for repeat offenders.

The high recidivism rate suggests that the majority of cross-border workers have been arrested in recent years, which was not the case in previous peaks. The number of border patrol agents has grown dramatically over the past decade, and technology like heat sensors, cameras, and drones make it difficult to escape capture.

“There weren’t that many agents, they had little technology, and there were a lot of easy places to walk through,” said Jeff Passel, a non-partisan Pew Research Center demographer who studies the population of those entering. without authorization. “Data shows that the border patrol now catches almost anyone who tries to cross illegally. “

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