US Border stops top 180K in single month for first time in 21 years

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For the first time since April of 2000, authorities stopped more than 180,000 illegal immigrants at the US-Mexico border, according to data released by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Wednesday.

The 180,034 apprehensions are an increase of fewer than 1 percent from April’s 178,854 apprehensions, but the high number highlights the ongoing severity of the migration crisis. It also surpasses preliminary data from CBP that was reported on by Axios earlier this week.

In March, 173,337 illegal immigrants were apprehended, making this year the first in which at least 170,000 apprehensions were recorded in three consecutive months since 2000. In each of the first four months of that year, at least 180,000 illegal immigrants were stopped at the southwestern frontier, with the numbers topping 211,000 that February and more than 220,000 people stopped that March.

Since Oct. 1 of last year, a total of 929,868 illegal immigrants have been apprehended at the border, putting the US on pace to stop 1.55 million illegal immigrants in this fiscal year. That would be the most since fiscal year 2000, when a whopping 1.64 million apprehensions were made at the southern border.

According to CBP, the number of total apprehensions “somewhat overstate the number of unique individuals arriving at the border” due to expulsions under pandemic-related powers that carry no legal consequence, encouraging people to repeatedly attempt to enter the US.

In fact, the agency reported that 38 percent of those stopped last month had attempted to cross the border at least once in the previous 12 months.

The increase in apprehensions from April to May of this year was driven by an 8.6 percent increase in the number of single adults apprehended, from 111,478 in April to 121,082 in May. The number of unaccompanied children apprehended dropped 17.4 percent from last month to 14,158, but is still the third-highest total on record — trailing only March and April of this year.

The latest numbers were posted the day after Vice President Kamala Harris returned from a two-day trip to Mexico and Guatemala, where she told those thinking of making the journey to the US: “Do not come.”

Harris, who President Biden deputized to handle diplomatic talks related to the migration issue in March, has yet to visit the border region. She attempted to shrug off criticism in a bizarre interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that aired Tuesday.

“We’ve been to the border. So this whole thing about the border, we’ve been to the border,” Harris said, to which Holt replied, “You haven’t been to the border.”

A chuckling Harris responded: “And I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”

Later Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Harris could go to the border “at some point.”

“If it is constructive and it moves the ball forward for her to visit the border, she certainly may do that,” Psaki added.

On Monday, Harris said going to the border would be a “grand gesture” with little meaning or significance.

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