United States border officials encountered more than 70,000 migrants who tried to enter the U.S. from Mexico illegally in November, four times the number of people seen in April.
Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said Monday that federal agents on the southern border have seen a “significant” increase in arrests of illegal immigrants between ports of entry and the number of migrants turned away at border crossings over the past seven months. November’s count this year was notably higher than the 42,000 people encountered at the southern border during the same month last year.
Of the 70,000 people encountered at the southern border last month, 67,000 illegally crossed the border between ports of entry and 3,000 were denied entry at the ports, CBP data shows. Morgan mistakenly told reporters in a call Monday morning that 87,000 people were encountered at the southern border.
In April, just 17,000 people were encountered by border officials on the southern border. Border Patrol agents are now averaging 2,300 arrests per day across California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas — more than double the 1,000 figure that former Obama-era Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said indicated a “crisis” on the border.
“If the current policies in place are revoked, as their critics promised they would do, the 2,300 per day will become a full-blown crisis overnight as we stand by and watch the numbers go even higher, making the last year’s crisis pale in comparison,” Morgan said.
Last month’s uptick is the latest increase amid a seven-month surge that current and former DHS officials told the Washington Examiner in October that they expected to see if President Trump lost the election on Nov. 3. Morgan warned in June that CBP may see an increase in migrants fleeing their home countries in Mexico and Central America for the U.S due to economic peril prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters that have struck the region this year.
CBP is also seeing an increase in children who arrive at the border without an adult. More than 9,100 unaccompanied minors were found at the border in October and November, the first two months of fiscal year 2021. In the same two months last year, about 6,100 children arrived without adults. The number of solo children encountered in November was a 500% increase from the 700 children found in April.
The government saw more than 977,000 illegal immigration attempts in fiscal year 2019, which ran from October 2018 through September 2019, making it the highest number since 2007. The humanitarian crisis at the border peaked during May, when more than 144,000 people were encountered at the southern border. While previous surges in illegal immigration were mostly adult Mexican men, last year’s surge included more families and unaccompanied children than single adults. Families from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras made up 473,000 of the 977,000 illegal immigrants last year. More than 76,000 unaccompanied children were also taken into custody, federal data shows.
The surge in illegal immigration is happening despite the completion of 430 miles of border wall under the Trump administration. Since January 2017, the government has installed several hundred miles of 18-foot and 30-foot steel border wall, most of it in places that had inferior and dilapidated fences, and 300 more miles are under construction or in pre-construction. The 730-mile project will cost $15 billion — $10.5 billion of which was redirected from Defense and Treasury appropriations.
CBP did not say how it is planning to respond to the continued surge in illegal immigration. Morgan said he has not spoken with the Biden transition team about his concerns.