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U.S. authorities along the southern border stopped migrants 209,000 times in August

Nearly 209,000 border apprehensions in August
Nearly 209,000 border apprehensions in August... 07:23

U.S. authorities stationed along the southern border stopped migrants nearly 209,000 times in August, as unlawful entries slowed down slightly after reaching a 21-year high during the previous month, according to government data released Wednesday.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics show that unauthorized migration to the U.S.-Mexico border remained at an extremely high level toward the end of the summer, when migrant apprehensions have historically dropped due to the heat.

Single migrant adults, who have a high rate of attempting to cross the border multiple times, were stopped over 103,000 times, which is a 7% drop from July. Roughly 75% of them were swiftly expelled to Mexico under a Trump-era public health edict the Biden administration has maintained. 

The number of unaccompanied migrant children taken into U.S. border custody in August also decreased slightly from a monthly record high in July. More than 18,800 unaccompanied minors, most of them from Central America, entered U.S. custody last month.

As required by an anti-trafficking law, the Biden administration has been transferring non-Mexican unaccompanied children to government-overseen shelters, exempting them from the Trump-era expulsions.   

Encounters of migrant families with children increased by 4% in August from the previous month. U.S. officials took more than 86,000 parents and children traveling as families into custody and allowed 80% of them to seek U.S. humanitarian protection. The rest were expelled under the public health law, known as Title 42. 

The number of migrants and asylum-seekers coming from beyond Central America's Northern Triangle and Mexico also jumped in August, making up 29% of total apprehensions. Many of them hailed from Ecuador, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil and other countries that have seen tens of thousands of their citizens leave during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sharp increase in migrant encounters this summer has posed major logistical, humanitarian and political challenges for the Biden administration, which has been accused of having lax border enforcement policies by Republican critics and of not reversing Trump-era asylum restrictions fast enough by progressive activists.

The migratory surge prompted the Biden administration to increase prosecutions of repeat border crossers, restart expedited deportations of some families and enact a new policy of expelling Central American migrants deep into Mexico, a practice that has alarmed advocates for asylum-seekers. 

It also comes amid a major setback in federal court that has required the Biden administration to start the process of reviving a Trump-era border policy it had previously decried as infective and inhumane. 

Because of the Supreme Court's refusal to pause an August ruling by a federal judge in Texas, U.S. border officials are legally obliged to reinstate the so-called "Remain-in-Mexico" program, which requires asylum-seekers to wait outside the U.S. for their court hearings.

Since the start of the current fiscal year, which began in October 2020, U.S. officials along the southern border have made more than 1.5 million migrant apprehensions, a figure the administration has said is inflated by a high rate of repeat crossing attempts by adults expelled to Mexico under Title 42.

According to CBP, 25% of the border apprehensions in August involved migrants who had been previously taken into the U.S. custody and expelled. 

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