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US border arrests surpass 1 million in 2021

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A US customs and border patrol officer stands at a border crossing in San Ysidro, California, United States. (Photo by Reuters)

US border patrol agents have detained more than 1 million refugees at the American southern border with Mexico so far in fiscal year 2021, highlighting the persisting immigration troubles facing the Biden administration.

At the current rate, the total US border arrests for the fiscal year, which ends on September 30, will turn out to be the highest since 2000, when nearly 1.7 million refugees or asylum seekers were detained by American authorities, Reuters reported Saturday, citing “preliminary figures” shared by a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The development comes as the Democratic US President Joe Biden, who took office five months ago, has reversed many of the hawkish immigration policies instituted by his Republican predecessor, former president Donald Trump.

Republicans, however, have blamed Biden's policies for the continuing surge in illegal border crossings in recent months, though migration experts insist that poverty, violence and food insecurity are among the key factors driving refugees and asylum seekers to leave impoverished Central American nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, whose governments have long been considered US clients.

According to the report, US Border Patrol made 172,000 refugee arrests at the southwestern border in May, “on par with 20-year highs from March and April,” noting that similar detention figures are also expected this month.

The current demographics of refugees arriving at the border, including many from Central America and other countries, take longer to process than the mostly Mexican individuals that arrived at the border in 2000, according to the CBP official cited in the report.

The development came as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared earlier this month that he would dispatch the state’s police officers to help with the "border security crisis' in Texas and Arizona while slamming Biden administration’s failure to deal with the persisting border predicament.

“Florida is going to support Texas and Arizona. We believe that securing the southern border is important for our country, but specifically we believe it’ll benefit the people of Florida to be able to get this under control and so where the federal government has failed, the states are stepping up and doing our best to fill the void,” DeSantis said during a June 15 press briefing.

The governors of Texas and Arizona had called for other US states to send police to the border to help them deal with the deteriorating crisis.

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