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Migrant Families Caught at Border Reach All-Time High

As border arrests ticked backed up for the past two months following a sharp drop earlier in the year, record numbers of migrant families crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in August, the Washington Post reports. The influx has upended Biden administration efforts to discourage parents from entering illegally with children and could once again place immigration in the spotlight during a presidential race. The U.S. Border Patrol arrested at least 91,000 migrants who crossed as part of a family group in August, exceeding the prior one-month record of 84,486 set in May 2019, during the Trump administration. Families were the single largest demographic group crossing the border in August, surpassing single adults for the first time since Biden took office.

Overall border apprehensions have risen more than 30 percent for two consecutive months, after falling sharply in May and June as the Biden administration rolled out new restrictions and entry opportunities. The Border Patrol made more than 177,000 arrests along the Mexico border in August, up from 132,652 in July and 99,539 in June. Family groups have been an Achilles’ heel for U.S. immigration enforcement for over a decade. Most migrants in that category who are detained by Border Patrol agents are quickly released and allowed to live and work in the United States while their humanitarian claims are pending. Backlogged U.S. immigration courts typically take several years to reach a decision, and the process rarely ends in deportation, federal data show. Trump administration officials eventually reduced family crossings by aggressively expanding the “Remain in Mexico” program, which sent thousands of asylum seekers back across the border to wait, many in squalid conditions, while their claims were adjudicated in U.S. courts. The Biden administration halted Remain in Mexico and closed the three detention centers for families operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. President Biden has replaced the pandemic policy with new measures that allow tens of thousands more migrants to come to the United States legally each month but make it harder for those who cross illegally to get released after making an asylum claim.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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