Record Numbers of Migrants Cross Southern Border, on Track for Annual Total of Two Million

Posted on 08/15/22 | News Source: WSJ

Border Patrol agents have made about 1.82 million arrests at the southern border in the government’s fiscal year that began in October, new figures published Monday show, the second year under the Biden administration that arrests hit an record.

In July, agents arrested about 182,000 migrants crossing the border illegally, with about two-thirds of those arrested being single adults. About 22% of those arrested involved repeat border crossers.

The monthly figure suggests that, if trends at the border hold, arrests for the fiscal year, which ends in September, will likely eclipse two million for the first time.

July marked the second month of declining arrests, down 19% from the high in May. It’s not clear what is driving the decline, though it is likely a mix of stepped-up immigration enforcement by Mexico and an effort by the U.S. government to prosecute migrant smugglers, experts said.

Part of the explanation for the historic numbers is supply and demand. The pandemic hit Latin America’s economies harder than any region in the world, experts say, throwing millions of people out of work and creating a far greater supply of people willing to take low-wage jobs in the U.S. At the same time, the U.S. economy rebounded quickly, creating strong demand for the kinds of low-paying jobs that migrants normally take.

Smugglers also told migrants that President Biden’s immigration policies would prove more lenient, an idea that took hold once word spread through WhatsApp chats and Facebook posts that at least some people who had attempted to reach the U.S. were allowed to stay.