The number of illegal immigrants caught attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico spiked 40 percent in June following several months of slowed border traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published its enforcement numbers for June, indicating the border security agency had recorded 32,512 illegal border-crossing attempts for the month. Compared the CBP’s May numbers, in which they recorded around 23,000 illegal crossing attempts, the number of crossings in June was up more than 40 percent.
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan did note that the June 2020 numbers were down by about 65 percent as compared to the more than 104,000 border encounters in June 2019, but were still an increase over the previous months after President Donald Trump announced in March that the U.S. would close the southern border to non-essential traffic.
“While the number of encounters last month are not a surprise, this increase is still extremely concerning as we continue to battle the invisible enemy: COVID-19,” Morgan said of the June numbers. “Therefore, it is imperative that we continue to build the border wall system and enforce CDC policies aimed at protecting the health of Americans. At the end of the day, CBP will continue to prevent and deter illegal crossings that endanger the life of the American public.”
Providing a further breakdown of the June numbers, Morgan said “Single adult Mexican nationals, who are generally seeking economic opportunities, accounted for almost 80 percent of the encounters.”
The CBP’s June report also recorded a 50 percent increase in drug seizures from May to June of this year, including a 69 percent increase in cocaine intercepted, a 66 percent increase in marijuana and a 161 percent increase in fentanyl. The amount of methamphetamine intercepted at the border, including crystal meth and liquid meth, decreased by 15 percent.
The CBP noted the smuggling method of piling illegal immigrants into tractor-trailers to sneak them across the border and warned those trucks can become dangerously hot with no ventilation or means of escape.
“It is disturbing to see the conditions migrants are put into, often times deprived of food and water, placed in unsanitary environments, and forced into confined spaces increasing the spread COVID-19,” Morgan said of the trend.
The June numbers come in the same month that the CBP announced the completion of the 200th mile of wall built on the southern border. CBP announced construction is underway for an additional approximately 339 miles of new border wall system and said another approximately 183 miles were in a pre-construction phase.
Trump made the wall a key plank of his immigration policy during his 2016 election campaign.