The United States says more than 1.7 million migrants have been detained along the border with Mexico in the past 12 months, the highest number on record.
More than a million of them have been deported to Mexico or their home countries, according to data from US Customs and Border Protection.
The agents arrested people from more than 160 countries.
President Joe Biden’s popularity in opinion polls has declined, in part due to his immigration policy.
Only 35 percent of Americans said they approve of his handling of the problem, in a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research earlier this month.
Biden promised a more humane immigration policy than his predecessor Donald Trump, but the US-Mexico border was engulfed in crisis for much of the Democratic presidency’s nine months.
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Detention numbers for fiscal year 2021, which ended in September, are the highest since 2000. That year, more than 1.6 million migrants were held at the US-Mexico border. But the number hasn’t reached 1.7 million since US authorities began monitoring such rumors in the 1960s.
“The large number of deportations during the pandemic contributed to more migrants than usual making more border crossing attempts,” US Customs and Border Protection said.
Those who tried to enter the United States illegally came mainly from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Of all the detainees, the largest category were adults traveling without children: more than 1.1 million (or 64%).
At the same time, US authorities said they had encountered more than 145,000 unaccompanied minors, a record number.
Nearly 11,000 of those children remained in government custody on Friday.
A BBC investigation of the Fort Bliss Detention Center in Texas earlier this year found reports of sexual abuse, Covid epidemics and lice, starving children being served undercooked meat, and sandstorms engulfing desert tents where young people were detained.
Republicans have blamed Biden’s promise to create a path to citizenship for immigrants for fueling the tide.
Mr. Biden – who is making one of his regular trips to his home in Delaware this weekend – this week faced questions as to why he didn’t visit the border.
The White House press secretary told reporters on Friday that Mr. Biden drove along the border in 2008 when he was campaigning to become Barack Obama’s vice president.
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