(The Center Square) – The surge in illegal immigration at the southern border continues to worsen, May numbers show, as the Biden administration takes more criticism for its handling of the issue.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection released new data on the crisis at the southern border, showing the federal law enforcement agency encountered 180,034 people attempting to illegally enter the country last month.
May’s numbers were a 1% increase from the previous month, but illegal immigration since Biden took office has soared.
Data from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol released earlier this year showed that in March, CBP encountered 172,000 illegal immigrants attempting to cross the southern border, a major increase from 101,000 in February. Those numbers have now risen by several thousand per month since.
CBP noted that there has been a significant increase in expelled immigrants trying multiple times to enter the country, even after they have been caught before.
“Thirty-eight percent of encounters in May 2021 were individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, compared to an average one-year re-encounter rate of 15 percent for Fiscal Years 2014-2019,” CBP said.
Republicans have continued to pressure the Biden administration on the surge in illegal immigration, regularly attacking Vice President Kamala Harris for not visiting the southern border despite her appointment by President Joe Biden to tackle the immigration issue.
“Under Biden’s open border, people from all over the world are making their way to Mexico so they can come into America – and we don’t have the slightest idea who they are or what they’re going to do when they get here,” said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. “That’s not a very prudent way to run an immigration system.”
A Rasmussen poll from last month found that roughly two-thirds of Americans think "the current situation with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border is a crisis.”
In response to the criticism, Harris publicly told Guatemalans this week to not come to the U.S. during a news conference with the nation’s president. The comments drew pushback from her own party, demonstrating the administration's difficulty handling the divisive topic.
“The goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home,” Harris said. “At the same time, I want to be clear to folks in the region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come. I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
ICE arrests plummeted at the beginning of the Biden administration even as illegal immigration surged. The increased illegal immigration has led to more endangered lives as well.
“Smuggling organizations are abandoning migrants in remote and dangerous areas, leading to a dramatic rise in the number of rescues CBP performs,” CBP said. “In May 2021, CBP conducted 7,084 rescues nationwide, and CBP has rescued 35 percent more individuals in Fiscal Year 2021 than all of Fiscal Year 2020.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week issued a disaster declaration in response to several hundred thousand immigrants illegally entering the U.S. through Texas since January.
The five-page order came roughly two months after Abbott initiated Operation Lonestar, directing the Texas Department of Public Safety to protect Texans from increased crime being committed by immigrants.