After seeing modest decreases during late summer and early fall, the number of people either caught illegally crossing the United States’ southern border or deemed inadmissible to the country increased during the month of November. According to Customs and Border Protection, agents reported 173,620 encounters last month, a 5% increase from Oct and a 142% increase from the same month last year.
The largest number of encounters continues to happen in the Rio Grande Valley, but CBP’s Yuma, Big Bend, and Del Rio sectors also reported large month-to-month increases.
As this data was released, Gov. Greg Abbott debuted the first installment of a Texas-built border wall near Rio Grande City. The border remains a focal point of Abbott’s re-election campaign.
“The Biden administration has failed to do its job,” Abbott said Saturday during a news conference.
The increase comes as Congress remains deadlock on advancing any type of wholesale immigration reform.
“Until we can manage the push and pull factors, I don’t see that the numbers are going to decrease,” said Jeronimo Cortina, PhD.
Cortina is the associate director of the University of Houston’s Center for Mexican American Studies. He said a lack of jobs, natural disasters, political unrest, corruption, and crime persisting in Central and South America continually drives many migrants to the U.S. where there is a labor shortage.
“When there is labor demand, there’s going to be labor supply,” said Cortina.
Cortina said the U.S. also lacks clear-cut immigration policies and reform won’t come as long as Congress remains divided.
“There is no middle space for us to have a conversation based on policy, devoid of any politics,” said Cortina.
The “Remain in Mexico” program re-launched in December, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The program, officially titled Migrant Protection Protocols, started under former President Donald Trump to deter border crossings by requiring asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while awaiting a decision, rather than be released into the U.S.
President Joe Biden tried to kill the program in June, but a Texas-led federal lawsuit revived MPP. A federal judge ruled when the Biden administration ended MPP, it did so without following the Administrative Procedure Act.
DHS has not yet provided specifics on exactly where along the border MPP has been restarted and how many migrants are part of the program. A DHS official told KPRC 2 “For operational security reasons, DHS is not sharing details regarding location of and numbers of initial returns in each location.”
However, DHS continue to challenge the court’s ruling and still seeks to permanently end the program.