Home U.S. News Illegal Border Crossings Increase in July After Sharp Drop

Illegal Border Crossings Increase in July After Sharp Drop

Illegal Border Crossings Increase in July After Sharp Drop

The number of illegal crossings at the southern border increased in July after a sharp drop the previous month, calling into question just how effective the Biden administration’s new policies are in curbing illegal migration.

Customs and Border Protection data released on Friday showed there were more than 132,000 illegal crossings between official ports of entry in July. That is a 33 percent increase compared to June, when there were 99,539. Illegal crossings in June had dropped nearly 42 percent compared to May, when they stood at 171,387.

While overall crossings increased, the number of single adults who crossed illegally remained about the same in July as in June. Nearly twice as many migrant families, however, crossed in July than in June.

Even though the volume of illegal crossings has gone up since June, July still represents one of the lowest monthly numbers since February 2021.

The Biden administration has argued that the general decrease in crossings from the earlier peak is a result of its new immigration measures, particularly a new asylum rule that sets a higher bar for a migrant to be eligible to apply for asylum in the United States. That rule is being challenged in federal courts.

“The rule is working as intended and has already significantly reduced encounters at the border,” Blas Nuñez-Neto, the assistant secretary for border and immigration policy at the Homeland Security Department, said in a June court filing.

It could be difficult to keep making that argument if the number of illegal crossings increase while the policy remains in effect.

For much of President Biden’s time in office, the number of illegal crossings at the southern border has reached historic levels, driven by displacement around the globe. Failing states and authoritarian governments in the Western Hemisphere have spurred millions of migrants to undertake dangerous journeys to seek refuge in the United States.

The new asylum rule is part of a suite of new measures the Biden administration has rolled out since last fall, including the creation of new legal pathways for some migrants. Taken together, they are designed to drive down the number of illegal crossings. The new rule went into effect on May 12 to coincide with the expiration of a pandemic-driven public health measure known as Title 42.

That measure helped border officials manage the at times overwhelming volume of people crossing into the United States, because it allowed them to expel migrants swiftly.

Republicans have argued Title 42 should remain in place so that migrants cannot seek asylum at the border.

When the new asylum rule went into effect, migrants also started to face harsher consequences for crossing illegally. After that, illegal crossings went down significantly. While administration officials were pleased with the outcome, they have been reluctant to take public victory laps because of all of the variables that drive illegal migration patterns.

A federal appeals court will examine whether the new asylum rule is legal. The court has allowed the Biden administration to continue enforcing the rule in the meantime. The government and the plaintiffs are expected to file briefs by the end of September.

Republicans, who regularly attack President Biden over illegal crossings at the southern border, will frame the recent increase as proof that the new measures are ineffective.

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