U.S.-Mexico border encounters rise in September despite Trump restrictions

U.S.-Mexico border encounters rise in September despite Trump restrictions

Originally Published in Reuters

Frank Hesson and Frank Jack Daniel - October 14, 2020

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - U.S. Border Patrol agents have picked up more migrants at the southwest border in recent months despite sweeping new controls put in place by the administration of President Donald Trump during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest U.S. government statistics.

The number of migrants U.S. authorities encountered at the border with Mexico rose to nearly 58,000 in September, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). That’s up from a low point of 16,000 in April, when countries around the world initiated lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said on Wednesday that he expected illegal immigration would again surge when the coronavirus pandemic ends.

“We’re anticipating it’s likely to be worse due to the deteriorating and worsening economic conditions, not only in Mexico, but in the entire Western Hemisphere,” Morgan said during a press conference in Tucson, Arizona.

Trump has made immigration a central focus of his presidency and a key part of his reelection campaign. The Republican president and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are locked in a tight race in Arizona, a key battleground state in the Nov. 3 election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week.

The Trump administration issued a public health order in March that allows the government to quickly expel most migrants at the border.

Since March, CBP border enforcement data includes people “expelled” under the public health order - more 150,000 people.

The majority - 77 percent - of those expelled under the new health measures have been from Mexico, according to CBP.

CBP encountered nearly 401,000 migrants in all of fiscal year 2020, which ended on Sept. 30, a 53 percent decrease from the previous year, the agency said. CBP did not say how many of those were repeat crossers.

Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington D.C. and Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and Steve Orlofsky

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