The Department of Homeland Security announced that border patrol agents saw a rise in migrant encounters in July, despite President Joe Biden’s message that illegal immigration would decrease in summer months.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that border patrol agents encountered 212,672 migrants in July. A 13 percent increase from June’s 188,000 encounters. Just one year ago, the Trump administration saw 40,292 crossings.
According to Fox News, Mayorkas emphasized that many of the July border encounters resulted in expulsion under Title 42 health protections. These protections permit the expulsion of migrants who would need to be held in crowded facilities while being processed.
Title 42 has been re-instituted given the COVID-19 pandemic and the Delta variant surge, though the administration is facing a lawsuit from the progressive ACLU organization.
“It is complicated, changing, and involves vulnerable people at a time of a global pandemic,” Mayorkas said.
The Biden administration has already announced efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at the southern border, not by limiting the number of illegal migrants in the U.S., but by providing vaccinations to migrants held in border facilities.
The record-breaking migrant crossings come in stark contrast to comments that Biden made earlier this year. Biden argued that the surge at the border was seasonal and “happens every year.”
“There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March. It happens every year,” Biden said. “The reason they are coming is that it is the time they can travel with the least likelihood of dying on the way, because of the heat in the desert.”
Biden has continuously rolled back Trump administration rules that made it increasingly difficult for migrants to come and stay in the United States. For instance, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under Biden is reportedly bypassing the detainment or deportation of illegal migrants who are suspected of being victims of crime. Forbes reported that the policy is called a “victim-centered approach” to enforcement.
“ICE will now avoid taking action against undocumented immigrants who applied for special visas offered to victims of abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence, child neglect, or other serious crimes, according to a directive released Wednesday,” the report reads.
The Biden administration’s border policies have been highly scrutinized, particularly by border state governors such as Republican Greg Abbott of Texas. Abbott condemned Biden after a report uncovered that a Catholic charity purchased hotel rooms for migrants who tested positive for COVID-19.
“The Biden Administration has knowingly — and willfully — released COVID-19 positive migrants into Texas communities, risking the potential exposure and infection of Texas residents,” Abbott said.
Texas leaders also ordered the Texas National Guard to arrest immigrants caught illegally crossing the state’s southern border. State leaders argue that Biden is not doing enough to quell the surge of migrant crossings with its policies.