On Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released data showing a dramatic increase in drug seizures and the amount of unique encounters with unaccompanied children in fiscal year 2021.
“The operational statistics for Fiscal Year 2021 show the breadth and scope of CBP’s mission, which encompasses travel and trade, drug interdiction, and border security,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said. “CBP’s mission is vital to making our country safer and more secure, and important to our economic recovery.”
According to the report, CBP seized over 624,500 pounds of drugs in the time period, which runs from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. fiscal year 2021 saw a 68% increase in cocaine seizures, a 7% increase in methamphetamine seizures, a 6% decrease in heroin seizures, and a 134% increase in fentanyl seizures compared to fiscal year 2020.
In the last several years, fentanyl-related deaths have jumped in the United States, especially for people aged 18-45. Much of the illicit fentanyl coming into the country is believed to be from either Mexico or China.
While drug seizures increased drastically, the amount of unaccompanied children also jumped from pre-pandemic levels.
The report explained that in fiscal year 2021 there was “a continued long-term shift from almost all encounters being single adults from Mexico to large numbers of individuals in family units; a continued rise in encounters of unaccompanied children; and increasing migration flows from countries other than Mexico or the Northern Triangle.”
According to the report, unique encounters of children without adults increased 73% since fiscal year 2019. It also tried to place partial blame on the Trump administration for children being held “for too long” at border patrol stations in 2021.
It claimed that the Trump administration failed “to expand the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) capacity to receive unaccompanied children from Border Patrol stations within the required timeframe.”
Only 28% of those encountered at the border in fiscal year 2021 were Mexican nationals, the lowest ever, with many coming from Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador). Individuals from Ecuador, Brazil, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti, and Cuba were also seen quite frequently.
The data also notes that there were 1.72 million enforcement encounters, which included 1.2 million repatriations. About 62% of those encountered trying to illegally cross the border were sent back to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
About 200 non-immigrant visas and 240 Global Entry and SENTRI cards were taken away thanks to Operation Sentinel, a new initiative designed to crack down on human trafficking by criminal organizations.
Another stated priority of CBP was to stop the importation of goods using forced labor into the U.S. CBP sent out Withhold Release Orders to “to protect American consumers and businesses from goods made by forced labor.”
“Those orders have targeted cotton products and tomato products from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region; silica-based products made by a company that operates in Xinjiang; palm oil from a Malaysian company; and tuna and other seafood harvested by a Chinese fishing fleet, a Taiwan-flagged fishing vessel, and a Fijian-flagged fishing vessel,” the report explained.
Nearly $500 million worth of goods were stopped by CBP in fiscal year 2021 from entering the American economy.
Magnus explained, “These are not just numbers; they reflect the commitment of CBP’s workforce to their mission, to protecting the American people, and to fighting modern-day slavery.”
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