Why are US-Mexico border crossings at record levels?

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Polls suggest that more than two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Mr Biden's handling of the issue.

Polls suggest that more than two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Mr Biden's handling of the issue.

 

Why are US-Mexico border crossings at record levels

His likely opponent in November's presidential election, Donald Trump, has condemned the bill as not tough enough, a sentiment echoed by many conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

 

But it's not just Republicans who are unhappy about it. Democratic mayors in cities struggling to cope with the influx are also making their feelings known.

 

More than 6.3 million migrants have been detained crossing into the US illegally under Biden, a higher number than under Trump, Obama or George W Bush.

 

The reasons for the spike are complex, with some factors pre-dating this government and beyond the control of the US. We asked experts what's going on.

 

The number began to rise towards the end of the Trump administration, largely driven by Central Americans fleeing a series of complex crises including gang violence, poverty, political repression and natural disasters.

 

That uptick came to a sudden halt in early 2020, when pandemic-era restrictions led to a drastic reduction of over 53% between March and April that year.

 

Since these measures were lifted in early 2021, the numbers have steadily risen, reaching an all-time high of just over 302,000 in December 2023.

 

"That's when we began to see an increase again, primarily of Central Americans after mobility restrictions [there] and across the region began to ease," said Ariel Ruiz Soto, a policy analyst at the Washington DC-headquartered Migration Policy Institute.

 

"That's also when the bigger change happened and we began to see much more diversified flows, starting with Venezuela, but also Colombia, Ecuador and places further away."

 

Migrants now come from as far afield as West Africa, India and the Middle East.

 

Of migrants from outside the Americas, the greatest increase comes from China. More than 37,000 Chinese nationals were detained at the US-Mexico border last year, about 50 times the figure from two years ago.

 

Statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released late last year show that 6.1m new permanent migrants moved to its 38 member states in 2022 - a 26% increase over 2021 and 14% higher than in 2019.

 

The number of people granted asylum in the US doubled in 2022, driven in large part by migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. The US is second only to Germany now in levels of humanitarian migration.

 

"We are experiencing displacement around the world at a level never seen in recorded history, and people are turning up at our southern border for a variety of different reasons," explained Jorge Loweree, managing director of programmes at the American Immigration Council, a Washington-based non-profit and advocacy group.

 

A key message from President Trump, even if never became a reality, was the building of a border wall and increased deportations. The headlines created by the separation of children from their detained parents, decried by many as cruel, added to that impression.

 

Under President Biden there was a change of tone and of policy. Deportations fell and "deterrent-focused" policies such as the rapid removal of migrants to Mexico and the building of a border wall ended.

 

Migrants were paroled into the US to await immigration court dates - a process which can often take years.


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CRN News - Breaking News: Why are US-Mexico border crossings at record levels?
Why are US-Mexico border crossings at record levels?
Polls suggest that more than two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Mr Biden's handling of the issue.
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