Record Number of Immigrants Surrender at U.S. Border, Choosing Legal Entry
According to recently released government data, more than a quarter of a million immigrants arrived at the U.S. border in May. What’s interesting is that a growing percentage of them opted to surrender to federal customs officials at ports of entry instead of crossing illegally.
The numbers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection reveal that a total of 273,141 non-U.S. citizens were encountered at the United States’ sea, air, and land border last month. Out of these, 170,284 were arrested by Border Patrol agents for illegal entry, while 102,857 were denied entry at a crossing point.
Early Signs of Change
Senior Official Performing the Duties of CBP Commissioner Troy A. Miller stated, “As a result of comprehensive planning and preparation efforts, there has been a significant reduction in encounters along the Southwest border since the return to full Title 8 immigration enforcement on May 12.”
The total number of encounters in May, 273,141, was only 1% lower than the previous month’s total of 275,266. However, the data indicate that the Biden administration’s preparations for ending public health policy Title 42 on May 11 have influenced immigrants’ choices of where to cross.
Shift in Entry Points
During May, more than 102,000 individuals presented themselves to CBP officers at ports of entry, marking the highest month ever for port of entry encounters. It remains unclear whether immigrants who applied for appointments through the CBP One app were included in these port encounters.
Simultaneously, over 170,000 people crossed the border illegally and were apprehended by Border Patrol. This number aligns with the range of Border Patrol arrests seen in the past six months, which varied from 131,000 to 224,000.
Impact of Policy Changes
The termination of Title 42 on May 11 meant that immigrants caught entering the country illegally would be barred from seeking legal admission for five years and could face prosecution for unlawful entry under Title 8. This prompted many immigrants to attempt entry while Title 42 was still in effect.
CBP noted that half of the 170,000 arrests occurred from May 1-11, while the other half occurred from May 12-31. This suggests that the expansion of legal pathways for admission after Title 42 became increasingly appealing to people.
Of the 170,000 arrests, more than 43,000 were of Mexicans, 26,000 were of Venezuelans, and only 140 were on the Canadian border.
The Biden administration highlighted a 56% decrease in border crossings in the week following the expiration of Title 42, citing the effectiveness of the measures implemented to deter migration.
Title 42 was initially implemented in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It allowed border officials to turn away illegal immigrants instead of detaining them in confined settings. With Title 42 no longer in effect, the Biden administration has reverted to Title 8 and established new avenues for legal immigration.
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