Even before the end of September, the United States has beaten the number of immigrant arrests on the border with Mexico. For the first time, the number of people detained in US territory after crossing the Rio Grande has exceeded two million people in one year. Although expected according to various projections, the figure puts more pressure on the Administration of President Joe Biden, who is maneuvering so that irregular immigration does not become, along with the economy, the central issues that guide the legislative elections in November. Rebuked this Tuesday by journalists at the White House, the president explained that his government faces special circumstances. “There are fewer migrants from Mexico and Central America. Now I am attentive to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba,” Biden said. The president admitted that the deportation of these citizens back to their countries “is not rational.” Instead, the Democrat assured that he is working with the governments of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in Mexico, and his Central American counterparts “to stop the flow” and pay an already historic figure.
The milestone comes at a time when Republican governors are using immigrants as part of a political game, sending them on buses and chartered planes headed to Democratic strongholds in the north of the country such as Washington, New York and Chicago. Some have threatened to send more people to Delaware, the home state of the current occupant of the White House. This Tuesday, Biden responded to this with a joking tone: “Visit Delaware, it’s beautiful.”
Border Patrol agents apprehended 203,598 people during August. It has been the culmination of an intense summer, the time of year in which the greatest migratory flow is noted on the border between Mexico and the US. May already announced the upward trend. In that month, 293,000 people were arrested, which already meant an increase compared to April. The authorities of the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP, for the acronym in English) estimate that by the end of fiscal year 2022 (which is quantified from September 2021 to the end of this month) more than 2.3 million arrests will have been made . This figure contemplates that the same person may have been detained more than once thanks to a rule imposed by Donald Trump in the pandemic and preserved by Biden. This allows the rapid deportation of immigrants, who can retry the crossing days later.
The historic number was reached thanks to the increase in the arrival of Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans in the United States. These represent a third of those arrested in August. CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus had also blamed “the failed communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba” for the new wave of migration in the Western Hemisphere, which had triggered apprehensions on the southern border. The official explained on Monday that the lack of diplomatic relations with these countries has made repatriation more difficult.
In addition, citizens from Russia and Ukraine affected by the war started by Vladimir Putin in Eastern Europe added arrivals throughout the fiscal year, although this type of immigrant has been received with a different process by the immigration authorities.
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In total, the CBP will have made 600,000 more arrests this fiscal year than last year, which closed with 1.7 million encounters, the euphemism with which surveillance actions on the border with Mexico are reported.
Although the migration of Mexicans is still at higher levels than those registered during the Trump administration, the detention of these and Central Americans decreased by 43% compared to the same figure in August 2021. The drop responds to pressure from Washington on regional governments to control and reduce the flow from sending countries, a task that has fallen into the hands of Vice President Kamala Harris. An official from the Department of Homeland Security explained on Monday that the US has mobilized 23,000 agents along the borders of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, to discourage the passage of migrants to the north. The effort has borne fruit, according to the spokesman, as the advance of some 57,000 migrants has been stopped.
This is not only the busiest year. It is also the deadliest for those who undertake the journey from their countries, especially if they originate in the northern triangle of Central America. The Border Patrol reported in August that in the current fiscal year the death of more than 200 migrants had been documented in the Del Río district alone, the hot zone for irregular immigration and where there has been a sharp rise in drowning thanks to the rise of the river. The number is a huge jump compared to deaths in other years. Between 1998 and 2020, the average number of deaths in that area never exceeded 50. Two years ago, inclusive, the number of total deaths in the more than three thousand kilometers of common border was 247.
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