The crisis at the southwest border is getting worse, not better, according to new monthly data released this week by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Total migrant apprehensions topped 180,000 in May — a 20 -year high, putting the United States on track to exceed 1.5 million border apprehensions by the end of the fiscal year in September.
By any measure, we’re seeing an historic surge of illegal immigration at the border. Not since April 2000 have federal authorities detained that many people in a single month. Yet immigration advocates and some in the corporate press emphasized instead that apprehensions of unaccompanied minors and families declined in May compared to April — 23 percent for minors and 31 percent for families — taking it as an indication the Biden administration is indeed getting the border under control, as the president has repeatedly claimed.
But the most important bit of data released by CBP this week isn’t about minors or families, but about single adults. The vast majority of border arrests so far this year have been adults traveling alone — more than 121,000 in May, and nearly 660,000 so far this year. That’s almost twice the total of adults encountered in each of the last two years, and well over double the number for 2018.
Why is that important? Because adults traveling without families or children are unlike the migrants you most often see featured in corporate media. They are not the ones fording the Rio Grande in broad daylight or turning themselves in to the nearest Border Patrol agent when they reach the north bank. They are not the ones claiming asylum and lining up to be processed and released by CBP.
In May, CBP encountered more than 180,000 persons attempting entry along the SW border. This total represents a 1% increase over April.
— CBP (@CBP) June 9, 2021
They are the ones trying to evade law enforcement. In practice, that means more high-speed car chases. It means small groups of men hiking across South Texas ranchlands,
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