US Customs and Border Protection has attributed the uptick in arrests in part to instability in home countries, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and perceptions of instant shifts in US immigration policies.
The pandemic has taken a dramatic toll on Latin America, where Covid-19 cases and deaths have soared and economies once projected to grow have been decimated. The region was also hit with two devastating hurricanes. The decline in economic growth in 2020, according to the Congressional Research Service
, is expected to worsen income inequality and poverty in the region.
"The biggest reason people leave and come to the United States is the situations happening at their home countries," said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council.
This week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki warned those considering coming to the US that they'll largely be turned away.
Here's what to know about the situation at the US-Mexico border:
Is there a surge on the US southern border?
Not quite. There is an increase, but assessing the scope of it is difficult because of the high recidivism rate, according to border experts.
Individuals encountered illegally crossing the US-Mexico border can be swiftly expelled from the United States with little consequence under a public health order put in place last March by the Trump administration. That's led to single adults trying to cross multiple times.
"What we're seeing right now is that the Title 42 expulsions continue to be the largest driver of increased numbers at the border," Reichlin-Melnick said, referring to the law that allows for the quick removal of migrants.
In January, there was an average of about 3,000 arrests per day along the southern border, according to CBP.