The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency says 172,000 people tried to cross the Southwest border last month, a 71% increase over the month before. CBP says nearly 20,000 of those people are unaccompanied children.
"CBP has experienced an increase in encounters and arrests. This is not new. Encounters have continued to increase since April 2020, and our past experiences have helped us be better prepared for the challenges we face this year," said CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy Miller. "We are committed to balancing the need to maintain border security, care for those in our custody, and keep the American people and our workforce safe."
The encounters at the border have been steadily rising since April 2020 in relation to violence, natural disasters, food insecurity and poverty in Mexico.
This fiscal year CBP has already had over 589,000 encounters, which is a 24% increase from the total encounters of the whole fiscal year of 2020 when they said migration was limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, and is an increase of over 34% from approximately the same time frame of Fiscal Year 2019.
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The majority of the encounters on the Southwest border are with single adults.
CBP continues to expel single adults and family units that are encountered pursuant to CDC guidance under Title 42 authority. In March 2021, CBP expelled 103,900 individuals under Title 42, 28% of whom were individuals who had been previously expelled from the United States under the same authority. Title 42 expulsions represented 60% of the total encounters for the month.
The border patrol said there has been a noticeable increase of unaccompanied children at the Southwest border from Central America with 18,890 unaccompanied children arriving in March, a 100% increase since February.
Although fewer than 11% of encounters in March were unaccompanied children, they make up the largest demographic group of individuals in custody at CBP facilities.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) works with CBP to quickly transfer processed unaccompanied children to care provider facilities. The 30-day average of children transferred out of CBP custody has increased, from 276 at the end of February to 507 at the end of March.
CBP has noticed a dramatic decrease in large group encounters, mainly in the Rio Grande Valley region, with the pandemic being the main cause. The groups consisted of 100 or more people and has went from 216 in fiscal year 2019 to only 10 in Fiscal year 2020.
As of the end of March 2021, CBP recorded 49 large group encounters in Fiscal Year 2021, totaling over 4,700 individuals.
Border Patrol agents, CBP officers and Air and Marine Operations agents have noted that drug seizures went down by 14% in March compared to February, but cocaine interceptions increased 26%, methamphetamine increased 91%, heroin seizures went up 22% and fentanyl seizures decreased by 28%.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put the CBP personnel at risk with by having over 8,300 employees testing positive and 28 have passed away.
CPD is collaborating with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security to expedite the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to their workforce.
CBP continues to collaborate with federal partners and the trade community to facilitate the importation of legitimate medical supplies and other goods necessary for the COVID-19 response, while also verifying that those goods are authorized and safe for use.
Between Jan 1 2020 and March 31 2021, CBP has seized:
- Nearly 178,000 FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits in 417 incidents
- More than 34.6 million counterfeit face masks seized in 707 incidents
- 37,000 EPA-prohibited anti-virus lanyards in 118 incidents
- Nearly 39,000 FDA-prohibited chloroquine tablets in 233 incidents
- Nearly 6,700 tablets of antibiotics, such as azithromycin in 111 incidents
- Approximately 300,000 containers of hand sanitizer in 36 incidents
For more information about the CBP Enforcement statistics, click here.