Arrests along Mexico border jumped 40 percent in June, defying Trump’s deterrence

]President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall on June 23 in San Luis, Ariz.

U.S. authorities made 32,512 arrests and detentions along the Mexico border in June, up from 23,142 in May

JULY 9, 2020 11:25 AM

The number of migrants detained along the Mexico border jumped 40 percent in June, an increase that defies a Trump emergency crackdown that cites the coronavirus pandemic to swiftly “expel” those who cross illegally, according to enforcement statistics released Thursday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

U.S. authorities made 32,512 arrests and detentions along the Mexico border in June, up from 23,142 in May. The June total was nearly double the number of detentions recorded in April, after the Trump administration cited a public health emergency and suspended normal immigration proceedings to quickly process most migrants and return them to Mexico in a matter of hours.

CBP figures show the vast majority of those detained in June — 89 percent — were promptly turned back to Mexico using the emergency rapid-expulsion system that has been widely condemned by rights groups and immigrant advocates. The administration has defended the expulsions as a necessary measure to keep detention cells along the border empty and avoid the risk of spreading infection.

Though the June enforcement numbers remain far below the levels tallied during last year’s migration crisis, they appear to be a sign that the deterrent effects of Trump’s crackdown are wearing off.

CBP officials released the June statistics just one day after the president stood in the Rose Garden with Mexican leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador and praised his cooperation on immigration enforcement.

“We’ve been helped greatly by Mexico on creating record numbers in a positive sense on our southern border,” Trump said, without specifying what records he was referring to. “It’s been really very, very tight.”

Mark Morgan, the acting CBP commissioner, issued a statement that used the migration increase to make the case for Trump’s $15 billion border wall project, on which construction has continued through the health crisis.

“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. “Therefore, it is imperative that we continue to build the border wall system and enforce CDC policies aimed at protecting the health of Americans.”

Most of those taken into custody last month were single adults from Mexico, Morgan noted, in contrast to last year’s influx, when record numbers of families and children from Central America streamed across the border to surrender to U.S. agents and request humanitarian protection.