The number of migrants who crossed the United States’ southern border with Mexico dropped during the month of October for a third consecutive month, according to official data, and the number of Haitians decreased by 94 percent.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said on Monday that 164,303 migrants were encountered along the US-Mexico border in October, a 14 percent decrease compared to September. The number included 902 Haitians, compared with more than 17,600 who crossed in September.
“October marks the third straight month of declining unauthorized migrant encounters along the Southwest border – with particularly sharp drops in families and unaccompanied children,” CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement.
The decrease in the numbers of migrant arrivals along the US-Mexico border comes after months of increases earlier this year that have overwhelmed border officials and put pressure on the administration of US President Joe Biden.
Biden’s rivals have accused him of encouraging migrants to make the dangerous trek by undoing some of the more restrictive policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Rights groups say the US is not doing enough to put in place an efficient and lawful system that allows vulnerable people to access protection in the US.
The new numbers also come after the US moved to expel more than 8,700 Haitian migrants who had camped under a bridge in southern Texas in September hoping to claim asylum in the US.
Biden administration officials said the expulsions were consistent with US laws, but immigration advocates slammed the move, saying that expelling Haitians back to a country reeling from political instability, poverty and natural disasters is cruel and a violation of international law.
Last week, citing a worsening political crisis and severe fuel shortages, the US Department of State urged American citizens to leave Haiti.
Earlier this month, the US reopened the US-Mexico border to non-essential travel after nearly 20 months of coronavirus pandemic-related closures.
And yet it has continued to expel the majority of migrants encountered at the border under Title 42, a health measure that cites the need to protect the country from the further spread of COVID-19.
The measure has effectively suspended asylum in the country. And in October, according to CBP, more than 57 percent of migrants were expelled under Title 42.
In the previous US fiscal year, which began in October 2020, 1.7 million migrants were detained at the border – an all-time high.
But many of the migrants are repeat crossers, according to CBP. Most migrants are expelled back to Mexico, and since expulsions under Title 42 are swift and do not involve paperwork, many people do try to make the attempt again.
In October, CBP said 29 percent of migrants had made the attempt at least once before in the previous 12 months.
Last month, migrants travelling in a caravan set on foot from southern Mexico towards the US-Mexico border. At its height, the caravan reportedly consisted of some 4,000 people, among them many families with young children.
But amid harsh weather conditions, exhaustion and the spread of the dengue fever among multiple people, the group dwindled to several hundred.
Last week, a migrant leader said a much larger group would set off from the southern Mexican city of Tapachula on November 18 and head towards the US. In the past, Mexican officials have blocked migrant caravans from approaching the US’s southern border.