(NewsNation) — More than 2 million migrants have been encountered at U.S. borders this year, already surpassing the total for all of 2021.
Nationwide encounters dropped 10% from May to June, the first monthly drop since January, according to a report from Customs and Border Protection. June encounters along the southern border dropped 14% from May. In total, there have been more than 1.7 million encounters along the southern border in fiscal year 2022, which runs from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2022.
Luis Chaparro, a journalist who covers immigration, joined NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Wednesday to detail what could be driving the surge in migration. While a recurring factor is violence in Central America, Chaparro also cited a lack of clarity over U.S. immigration policies.
“Some of them really think the U.S. is actually receiving them to get political asylum with an open borders immigration policy, and some think this is their last chance” to get in, Chaparro said.
In fact, nearly half of all migrants in June were expelled under the Title 42 policy, which allows the U.S. to turn away migrants before they’ve had an asylumn hearing to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. The Trump administration invoked Title 42 at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and it has been used more than 1.8 million times to expel migrants.
The Biden administration announced early this year it would end the policy, but a legal battle ultimately ended with a judge ruling in May that the restrictions must remain in place. Coupled with separate litigation over the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, migrants can often receive conflicting information about their ability to enter the U.S.
“Migrants are being told, most of the time by smugglers but also by word of mouth, that if they make it across the river, (they) can get political asylum, which is not the case for everyone,” Chaparro said.
Smuggling was thrust into the spotlight last month, when authorities found dozens of dead migrants inside an abandoned semitrailer outside San Antonio. Four men, including two U.S. citizens, have been arrested and charged in connection with the case.