WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The number of migrants caught trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border increased in September, according to the latest U.S. government statistics, a fresh sign that migrant traffic is rising again after it plummeted in April amid the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. Border Patrol made nearly 55,000 captures at the southwest border in September, according to new data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), over three times April’s number and up from 47,000 in August. In addition, nearly 3,000 migrants were deemed “inadmissible” at ports of entry, the agency said on Wednesday.
The administration of President Donald Trump issued a public health order in March that allows the government to quickly expel most migrants caught at the border, including asylum seekers and unaccompanied children. The number of captures at the border plunged to 16,000 in April as the order took effect and countries locked down borders due to COVID-19.
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said on Wednesday that he expected illegal immigration would again surge when the coronavirus pandemic ends.
“We’re anticipating it’s likely to be worse due to the deteriorating and worsening economic conditions, not only in Mexico, but in the entire Western Hemisphere,” Morgan said at a news conference in Tucson, Arizona.
Trump has made immigration a central focus of his presidency and reelection campaign. The Republican president and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden are locked in a tight race in Arizona, a key battleground state in the Nov. 3 election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week.
The rate of migrants processed under the March public health order who have attempted to cross again has been 37%, according to CBP, far higher than the 7% recidivism rate for border crossers last year.
The majority of those expelled have been from Mexico, according to CBP.
Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington and Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and Rosalba O’Brien
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