The immigration crisis facing President Joe Biden has reached a milestone. More than 171,000 people, mainly Central American citizens, were detained by border patrol agents during March. It is the highest figure recorded for a month in 15 years, since 2006. In the sea of data, each of them a story, another record stands out. The arrival of unaccompanied minors also borders on numbers not seen recently. More than 18,000 young people have set foot in the country unaccompanied. These figures add pressure on the Democratic Administration, which faces criticism from conservative sectors, who believe that this emergency south of the border has been caused by the policies implemented since the end of January.
The provisional figures presented this Friday by the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP, for its acronym in English) will grow with the closing of the registry. These put fiscal year 2021, which runs from October 2020 to September of the current one, on track to break recent records. Revenues at the border with Mexico have increased 70% since January (78,442), the month in which Biden came to power. His arrival at the White House has marked a calling effect for thousands of families from the Northern Triangle of Central America, who leave homes in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, mainly, wanting to leave behind violence, poverty and the ravages of climate change.
The Biden government had already prepared the ground for the news this Friday. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a politician with Latino roots, announced in a statement in mid-March that the United States was on track to achieve the highest number of encounters with immigrants “in the last 20 years.” “We are expelling the majority of single adults and families. We are not expelling unaccompanied minors, “added the secretary born in Havana, Cuba. Despite the turn that Biden has implemented in immigration policy to distance himself from his predecessor, Donald Trump, the Government has left in force, justifying itself in the pandemic, the measures that allow the rapid expulsion of hundreds of people in just three or four days.
The border patrol has detained more than 99,000 single adults at the border with Mexico. It’s a considerable increase from the more than 71,000 that arrived in February. Yet the face of Biden’s immigration crisis is young. In the last six months, 47,729 unaccompanied minors have entered the United States, a figure that far exceeds the total number of arrivals of minors during the entire fiscal year 2020. There is still another semester to close the records. In February, for example, 9,297 minors arrived alone. This already represented a 98% increase from October (4,690). March registered more than 18,800 minors. Such a dimension of this phenomenon had not been seen since May 2019, in the government of Republican Donald Trump. Then 11,861 boys and girls were processed on the border line.
The emergency situation on the southern border of the United States is visible to the naked eye. Numerous state and federal elements have been mobilized to the banks of the Rio Grande, the natural border that divides the country from Mexico and that serves as a gateway for immigrants. Helicopters fly over the line and aerial surveillance has been reinforced by unmanned airships with satellite technology at various crossing points.
Republicans have used the immigration crisis to hit Biden. A group of 19 conservative senators, including Texas Representatives John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, visited the CBP detention center in the border town of Donna, Texas. On the tour, lawmakers were able to see conditions similar to what Democrats denounced during the Trump Administration: hundreds of migrants crammed into temporary facilities and behind bars. The center had, until the middle of this week, 3,400 unaccompanied minors. Some spaces had more than 500 people in places where health protocols recommended a maximum of 32.
Authorities have recognized that 14% of those detained there have tested positive for coronavirus. The pressure unleashed caused President Biden to call the conditions of some of them “totally unacceptable.” The democrat also allowed the entrance of the agency’s cameras Associated Press To the place. The image of the cages helps to understand the challenge facing the occupant of the White House.
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