U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Thursday reported 212,672 attempted border crossings, the highest total in 21 years. File Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Attempted crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border surpassed 200,000 in July, the highest monthly figure in 21 years, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data released Thursday.
The CBP reported 212,672 encounters along the Southwestern Border in July, including 82,966 family members along with 18,962 unaccompanied teenagers and children, according to the agency's monthly operational update.
"The situation at the border is one of the toughest challenges we face," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Thursday in a news conference at the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. "It is complicated changing and involves vulnerable people at a time of a global pandemic."
July's arrest total represented a 13% increase from June, and was the second-highest monthly figure along the Mexico border on record. A total of 845,307 people have been stopped at the border during fiscal year 2021, up from 796,400 in 2019.
The agency also found that of the 212,672 encounters 154,288 were unique individuals, with 27% involving individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the past 12 months.
The Biden administration has extended Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allows border officials to immediately expel migrants found between ports of entry where a communicable disease such as COVID-19 is present.
The CBP on Thursday reported that 85,563 single adults and 9,948 family members were processed for removal from the United States under Title 42 in July.
Also under Title 42, the United States has begun to conduct "expulsion flights" in which migrants are flown to southern Mexico in an effort to encourage them to return to their nation of origin rather than attempt to enter the United States.
The United Nations Refugee Agency described the practice as "troubling" in a statement on Wednesday.
"At a time of significantly increased movement of asylum-seekers and migrants in the region, the Title 42 expulsion flights will also further strain the overburdened humanitarian response capacity in southern Mexico, heighten risk of COVID-19 transmission across national borders and run counter to steps being taken to share responsibility among countries of the region in addressing the root causes of forced displacement and migration," the agency's U.S. representative, Matthew Reynolds, said.