Border Patrol Arrests More Than Doubled Since April, With Illegal Crossings Surging to 38,000

United States Border Patrol agents made about 38,000 arrests in July, which is up from the roughly 16,000 people—primarily single adults from Mexico—who were apprehended in April.

July marked the third consecutive month of increases in apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border, which plummeted at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. On March 20, the Trump administration announced that under a 1944 health law, anyone who entered the country without direct authorization would be immediately sent back.

Single adults crossing over from Mexico made up 89 percent of the 90,621 people who were stopped by Border Patrol agents between May and July. In the same period in 2019, 300,000 people were arrested at the border, and only 30 percent of those apprehensions involved individuals.

That number of individuals is in stark contrast to the overwhelming numbers of asylum-seeking Central American families and children who have attempted to enter the U.S. over the past five years. Before the pandemic, single adults who were charged with illegally entering the U.S. faced criminal prosecution and potential jail time. But now, amid coronavirus concerns, only migrants with major criminal histories or who are believed to pose a national security threat are held in detention before deportation.

There has been a steady three-month increase in the number of Border Patrol arrests from April's low of only 16,000 to July's roughly 38,000.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics for July, 6,623 of those arrested at the border were criminal aliens, or individuals who had criminal convictions or were wanted by law enforcement. Last month, one-third of the people arrested were repeat border-crossing offenders, according to the agency. In 2019, only 7 percent of arrests involved people who were attempting a second border crossing.

"They are sending back people very quickly, in hours," said Armando Quintana, a 28-year-old Michoacán mechanic who arrived last week in Ciudad Juárez to attempt a border crossing into Texas, according to The Wall Street Journal. "The rumor is that chances of crossing undetected are higher, as you can try and try again without much consequences."

According to the deputy interior minister in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, Gloria Garza, about 80 percent of individuals who are quickly returned to Mexico—which has become routine during the pandemic—immediately attempt to cross back into the U.S.

In May, Mexican health officials said a new swath of coronavirus cases had come from people who were entering Mexico from America. Mexico state governors said thousands of virus cases had emerged because of legal residents or dual nationals who cross the border daily to work in their country.

"There were a lot of people who emigrated here to Mexico," Dr. Remedios Lozada, who leads government efforts in the Tijuana health district. "That was when we began facing the higher number of cases."

Newsweek reached out to the CBP for comment about illegal border-crossing arrests but did not hear back in time for publication.

mexico us border illegal crossings
Commuters show their IDs while entering the United States at the San Ysidro crossing port in Tijuana, Mexico, on June 16. Getty Images/Guillermao Arias/AFP