The United States facing an “unprecedented” challenge on the southern border as July was the busiest month for illegal border crossings in two decades.
This surge is unusual this time of year when there are usually less crossings because of the heat.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called the situation “unprecedented.”
“We are facing a serious challenge at our Southern Border and the challenge is, of course, made more acute and more difficult because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayorkas said.
In July, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported taking over 212,000 people into custody, including nearly 83,000 traveling in family groups.
Nearly 19,000 unaccompanied minors were also apprehended at the border.
A surge, DHS says, is partially due to the resurgence in the U.S. economy, and the immigration policies of the previous administration.
“Tragically, former President Trump slashed our international assistance to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, slashed the resources that we were contributing to address the root causes of irregular migration,” Mayorkas says.
While changing some immigration policies his predecessor put into place, President Joe Biden has continued using one called Title 42.
This Public Health Safety Act policy allows border agents to refuse entry to most migrants without the opportunity to apply for asylum.
The DHS Secretary defended that Thursday, saying the U.S. is also looking into improving how it processes asylum claims.
“It is critical that intending migrants understand clearly that they will be turned back if they enter the United States illegally, and do not have a basis for relief under our laws,” Mayorkas said.
While Republican leaders like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blamed the surge of new coronavirus cases on undocumented migrants, Mayorkas said wasn’t true, despite an increase of positivity rates in the migrant population.
“The rate of positivity among the migrants is at or lower than the rates in our local border communities,” Mayorkas said. “As has been expressed by the medical professionals, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
This month, the Biden administration started flying migrants apprehended at the southern border to the interior of Mexico to try to keep them from attempting to cross the border again.
The practice has fielded criticism from immigrant advocates.