By Terri Jo Neff
Officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released June 2021 operational statistics for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last week, and it shows undocumented migrants are still seeking entry -legally and illegally- along the Southwest Border at an overwhelming rate.
According to CBP, there were 188,829 encounters in June 2021 with persons attempting entry along the Southwest Border. June’s total was a 5 percent increase over May 2021, which in turn had one of the highest encounter totals in nearly two years.
But CBP says more than one-third of the persons who attempted entry in June had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months. That means the number of people who had first-time encounters with CBP in June was 123,838.
CBP suspects the large number of expulsions during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the unusually high number of migrants making multiple border crossing attempts.
The majority of all June encounters resulted in a Title 42 expulsion, according to a July 16 statement by CBP. Migrant single adults continue to make up the majority of encounters along the Southwest Border, with nearly 105,000 individuals being expelled.
Encounters with family units (at least one adult with at least one child) increased by 25 percent in June 2021, up to 55,805 from 44,746 in May. However, CBP says this was well below the all-time peak of 88,587 family units in May 2019.
Unfortunately, CBP says the number of encounters along the Southwest Border with unaccompanied children increased to 15,253 in June 2021 from 14,137 in May 2021. The good news is that the average time in CBP custody for unaccompanied children fell from 133 hours on March 29 to 28 hours on June 30.
“This sustained progress is a result of the steps DHS took to reengineer processes and mobilize personnel Department-wide, including designating FEMA to lead a whole of government effort to assist the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),” according to the July 16 statement. “This support has included establishing temporary facilities that provide safe, sanitary, and secure environments for unaccompanied children as well as continued support from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers to efficiently and effectively verify claimed sponsors to support the reunification process.”
The number of distress calls and medical emergencies that CBP responded to also increased in June as smugglers were more likely to abandon migrants who fell behind due to the summer heat.
“Although CBP does everything it can to locate and rescue individuals who are lost or distressed, the bottom line is this: the terrain along the border is extreme, the summer heat is severe, and the miles of desert migrants must hike after crossing the border in many areas are unforgiving,” according to CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller.
For the fiscal year ending June 30, CBP conducted 9,500 rescues nationwide, the vast majority along the Southwest Border. The agency continues to expand its technological capabilities, and has deployed 120 rescue beacons which are equipped with lights and signage visible from a distance.
Rescues are also facilitated through 2,165 placards CBP has deployed in remote areas throughout the Southwest Border. The placards inform migrants to call 911 and are uniquely numbered to provide rescuers with location coordinates.
CBP is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry. The agency is also charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.
In April, President Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus to head CBP and its 60,000 employees. As of press time the U.S. Senate has not been asked by the White House to move forward with a confirmation hearing.