The number of migrants arrested at the southern border jumped 40 percent from May to June, says U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The jump came at a time when the Trump administration is turning back most migrants at the border immediately for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. Arrests of migrants surged to 30,300 last month, including 27,000 people turned back under the new policy, reports the Wall Street Journal. Immigration officials say the current policy is necessary to protect the health of border patrol agents and border towns.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations have sued the government over the rules. A federal judge has indicated he believes they are likely unlawful. The June increase was fueled primarily by single Mexican adults, who made up about 80 percent of people crossing the border. That shift emerged this year after several years when those encountered at the border were predominantly Central American families. About 152,000 Mexicans have crossed the border during the fiscal year that started in October, equal to 59 percent of all those who crossed and on pace to double last year’s number. The Trump administration published the statistics a day after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador held an Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump, where the two leaders praised one another for building a stronger relationship in part by shrinking levels of migration. Analysts say the uptick is due to a Mexican economic downturn, which accelerated during the pandemic and prompted migrants to head north to seek work.