Migrant crossings at U.S.-Mexico border plunge 54% from record highs, internal figures show

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El Paso, Texas Illegal crossings along the US-Mexico border in May are down more than 50% from record highs reported in December, giving the Biden administration an unexpected reprieve during a time when migration has historically increased , according to internal government data obtained by CBS News.

During the first 21 days of May, US Border Patrol agents recorded a daily average of approximately 3,700 migrant apprehensions between official ports of entry. This represents a 54% decrease from the daily average of 8,000 in December, when illegal entries he shot himself to a quarter of a million, a historic high.

May is also on track to see a third straight month-on-month drop in illegal border crossings, preliminary statistics from the US Department of Homeland Security show. In March i April, illegal crossings along the southern border fell to 137,000 and 129,000, respectively, according to public government data. If the trend continues, the Border Patrol is on track to record between 110,000 and 120,000 apprehensions in May.

Border Patrol apprehensions do not include the number of migrants processed at official border crossings, where the Biden administration admits roughly 1,500 asylum seekers daily.

While still high compared to pre-pandemic levels, this year's drop in migration has been unusual, bucking the trend in recent years of rising migrant crossings in the spring. Senior US officials have partly attributed the lower-than-expected levels of illegal crossings to an aggressive crackdown on US-bound migrants by the Mexican government.

Mayorkas on the border

In an interview with CBS News in El Paso on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also credited the efforts of the Biden administration for the downward trend.

“We have dramatically reduced the number of encounters on our southern border,” Mayorkas told CBS News.

Mayorkas cited “a number of actions we've taken, not only strengthening our enforcement, not only targeting smugglers, but also building legal pathways to allow people who qualify for aid to come to the United States from 'a safe, orderly and legal way.'

The sustained drop in migrant crossings is good news politically for President Biden, who has faced lingering criticism from two quarters: Republicans and moderate Democrats who believe his immigration agenda is too lenient, and progressives who argue that his administration has adopted some Trump-era border policies. . Immigration has also emerged as a top concern for American voters ahead of November's presidential election.

Aware of the politics around immigration ahead of his election bid, Biden is considering an executive order that would seek to suspend asylum processing at the southern border when illegal crossings increase, three people familiar with the matter said. White House planning on CBS News. Officials aim to move forward with the measure, which would rely on a broad presidential authority known as 212(f), by June, though the deadline could change, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations. internal

While not confirming the expected executive action, Mayorkas said he was “not ruling out options.”

“We look at options … every day, to see what more we can do to strengthen our border security in accordance with the law and our country's values,” Mayorkas said.

Administration officials have frequently called on Congress to reform the US immigration system, warning that any executive action could be held up in court by legal challenges.

Senate Democrats tried and failed to advance a bipartisan border security bill for the second time Thursday, calling the vote to highlight Republican opposition to the legislation in an attempt to shift public opinion on the issue.

That proposal, which was negotiated by the White House and a small bipartisan group of senators earlier this year, would give the president emergency power to shut down asylum between ports of entry when illegal border crossings they rise to certain levels. It would also preserve asylum processing at official ports of entry and allow migrants who pass their initial asylum interviews to work in the US immediately after being released from federal custody.

Most Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have rejected the border deal, saying it is not strict enough.

Mayorkas on Thursday said he was “very disappointed” by the rejection of the border deal.

“I think President Biden made that pretty clear,” Mayorkas said. “Some want the issue for political reasons, rather than hand it over[ing] the solutions that border security and the security needs of our country and the American people deserve.”



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