CBP Apprehended More Than 180,000 Illegal Aliens in May

The border continues to be embroiled in chaos with no end in sight. On June 9, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released data on Southwest border encounters for May. The data show border officials apprehended 180,034 illegal aliens last month, an increase from the record-breaking 178,622 arrests made in April. Of the total 180,034 migrants detained last month, 62 percent were expelled through the continued use of Title 42 (a public health provision of the U.S. Code that the Biden administration has broadly hinted is on the chopping block).

According to CBP, single adults comprised the majority of the apprehensions made last month, while apprehensions of family units and unaccompanied children continue to run at historically high levels.

While detentions of some migrant categories decreased, the overall apprehension rate at the southern border continues to increase. The number of border arrests has risen every month since President Biden took office. In fact, May’s apprehensions figures have not been exceeded since April of 2000. Moreover, of the total aliens detained last month, 38 percent of individuals had at least one prior encounter with CBP officials in the past 12 months, more than doubling the average one-year reencounter rate of 15 percent between Fiscal Years (FY) 2014-2019. Based on that recidivism rate for unlawful entry, foreign nationals are not deterred from repeatedly trespassing into the United States.

So far, FY 2021 has seen a total of 929,868 apprehensions at the Southwest border; at this rate, the United States is already on the verge of surpassing the 977,509 arrests made in FY 2019, during a similar border crisis, despite four months remaining in the fiscal year. Policies implemented by the Trump administration in response to the 2019 surge resulted in dramatic, and almost immediate, decreases in illegal immigration. Those policies have been torched by the Biden administration, resulting in a dramatic and almost immediate resurgence of unlawful migration.

The Biden administration has done nothing to mitigate the turmoil occurring at the southern border. During Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to Guatemala, she warned Central American migrants not to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border. However, the actions of the administration so far send the opposite message.  

Rather than offering more foreign aid to countries whose countrymen illegally migrate to the U.S. at high rates, the administration should first reinstate the asylum agreements with those same nations. Guatemala’s president, Alejandro Giammattei, implored Vice President Harris to reinstate these bilateral agreements when she visited that country earlier this week. These arrangements have a proven record of curbing illegal migration to the southern border.

Additionally, allowing the construction of barriers along the Southwest border would help prevent unauthorized entries.

There is no excuse for the administration to allow record levels of apprehensions when they could pivot to a sensible immigration policy that does not result in disaster for the American people. Unless President Biden and his cabinet take this crisis seriously, the May apprehension numbers will pale in comparison once the summer figures appear.

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