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18 Apr, 2023 03:15

US sees jump in illegal border crossings

Officials expect an even greater surge in immigration after a Covid-related border restriction is phased out next month
US sees jump in illegal border crossings

The US has recorded a major spike in illegal border crossings, with the number of migrants apprehended by the authorities increasing by nearly 25% over the last month. The US government is preparing new measures to address a historic influx of immigration. 

Recently updated federal statistics show that more than 168,000 migrants were taken into custody after crossing the border in March, a significant increase compared to the 135,000 reported in February. More than 257,000 migrant encounters of any kind were recorded in the same month, outpacing the 213,000 in February, as well as the 250,000 in March 2022. 

Though the warmer spring months typically see an uptick in migration, border crossings have been on the rise in recent years, with Border Patrol apprehensions jumping from 885,000 in 2021 to more than 1.6 million in 2022. This year is on track to dwarf the previous figures, with over 1 million already reported as of March.

Border restrictions were tightened following the Covid-19 outbreak, but have been gradually relaxed as the pandemic continues to subside. One rule used to expel millions of undocumented migrants throughout the health crisis, known as Title 42, is set to end next month, prompting concerns of an even greater surge in migration at the southern border. 

According to internal Department of Homeland Security projections cited by CBS, officials are preparing for 400,000 migrants to cross the border per month – or around 13,000 each day – after Title 42 phases out on May 11, far exceeding the already high levels reported this year.   

To deal with the expected influx, the White House is reportedly working to finalize a regulation that would allow border agencies to turn away asylum seekers who pass through other countries before arriving in the US, requiring them to seek protections there instead.

Though President Joe Biden has been critical of the border policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump, his administration expanded the Title 42 program in January to include Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Cubans who crossed the border illegally. It previously applied only to migrants from Mexico, Venezuela, and parts of Central America.

However, even while increasing the number of expulsions, Biden has also worked to open new avenues for legal migration, agreeing to accept 30,000 people per month from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti for a period of two years under certain conditions.