U.S. authorities made 69,000 arrests and detentions last month along the Mexican border, a 21 percent increase from September and the highest total for any October since 2005, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data released Thursday, reports the Washington Post. The increase was partly fueled by a soaring number of repeat arrests along the border resulting from the Trump administration’s practice of quickly “expelling” people to Mexico after they enter the U.S. illegally. CBP officials insist the expulsions are a crucial public health measure to prevent the additional transmission of the coronavirus inside the U.S., but many of those sent back across the border are trying to enter again and again, without risk of detention and criminal prosecution. The most recent figures indicate that at least one-third of those taken into custody each month are repeat offenders.
Mark Morgan, acting CBP commissioner, again used his monthly enforcement briefing to depict border crossers as selfish and unconcerned for the welfare of U.S. agents and the public. “They’re telling us their wants and needs are more important than our lives,” Morgan said. It was an argument similar to the one made by those who have urged a national mask mandate, which President Donald Trump opposes. Morgan said the migrants present a unique threat because of their lack of masks and the cramped conditions in which they travel to the border. He blamed the economic impacts of the pandemic for the latest increase in border crossings, as well as President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to reverse many of Trump’s immigration policies. Though Trump took office promising tight immigration controls and a border wall, illegal crossings have surged repeatedly during his term. The latest figures show the flow of illegal narcotics into the U.S. also increased dramatically in October.