US border crossings from Mexico hit annual high

Venezuelan migrants walk across the Rio Bravo towards the United States border to surrender to the border patrol, from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Oct 13, 2022. (CHRISTIAN CHAVEZ, FILE / AP)

SAN DIEGO — A surge in migration from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua in September brought the number of illegal crossings to the highest level ever recorded in a fiscal year, according to the United States Customs and Border Protection.

Migrants were stopped 227,547 times in September at the US border with Mexico, the third-highest month in Joe Biden's presidency. It was up 11.5 percent from 204,087 times in August and 18.5 percent from 192,001 times in September 2021.

Migrants were stopped 227,547 times in September at the US border with Mexico, the third-highest month in Joe Biden's presidency 2021

In the fiscal year that ended Sept 30, migrants were stopped 2.38 million times, up 37 percent from 1.73 million times the year before, according to figures issued late on Friday. The annual total surpassed 2 million for the first time in August and is more than twice the highest level during Donald Trump's presidency in 2019.

Nearly 78,000 migrants from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua were stopped in September, compared with about 58,000 from Mexico and three countries of northern Central America that have historically accounted for most of the flow.

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The remarkable geographic shift is at least partly a result of Title 42, a public health rule that suspends rights to seek asylum under US and international law on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Due to strained diplomatic relations, the US cannot expel migrants to Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua. As a result, they are largely released in the US to pursue their immigration cases, The Associated Press reported.

Title 42 authority has been applied 2.4 million times since it began in March 2020, but has fallen disproportionately on migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

US officials said Venezuelan migration to the US has fallen more than 85 percent since Oct 12, when the US began expelling Venezuelans to Mexico under Title 42.

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At the same time, the Biden administration pledged to admit up to 24,000 Venezuelans to the US on humanitarian parole if they apply online with a financial sponsor and enter through an airport.

The expansion of Title 42 for Venezuelans to be expelled to Mexico came despite the administration's attempt to end the public health authority in May, which was blocked by a federal judge.

Venezuelans represented the second-largest nationality at the border after Mexicans for the second straight month, being stopped 33,804 times in September, up 33 percent from 25,361 times in August.

Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee issued a one-sentence statement on Saturday in response to the numbers: "You've got to be kidding."

Agencies Via Xinhua