PHOENIX — The new record is making headlines across the country, 1.7 million migrants arrested by the Border Patrol along the US-Mexico border in the last fiscal year which ended in September.
The leaked internal data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection was published by the Washington Post Wednesday.
But for immigration data experts, what matters is the context behind the numbers.
“When we look at this 1.7 million number, the top thing that people should know is that that’s not the number of people who have been allowed to seek asylum,” stated Aaron Reichlin-Melnick.
Reichlin-Melnick is the policy counsel at the American Immigration Council.
“The vast majority of the 1.7 million, two-thirds of them were expelled, deported, or sent to ICE detention centers,” Reichlin-Melnick said.
He says Title 42, the public health policy that allows the government to expel migrants due to COVID-19, led to a high level of repeat crossers.
For example, according to CBP estimates, one in three people were caught crossing the border more than once in August.
“There are some people who have been documented as crossing unsuccessfully 30 times, trying over and over again and failing each time, that’s driven the number of apprehensions significantly,” stated Reichlin-Melnick.
There are those in our community who believe there’s always been a "border crisis."
“We have never ever had a secure border no matter who the president is, no matter who the congress is,” stated Jose Borrajero.
Borrajero is a Cuban immigrant, so he says he understands why people are coming.
Still, he says, “we have to think about the U.S. citizens and legal immigrants first and then worry about the others.”
Borrajero says he hopes change comes soon, especially as the border continues being a top talking point among politicians running for governor in our state.
“I have heard some of the interviews and how they’re all going to solve the problem. ‘Yeah, we’re going to get tough on the border’, I've been hearing that for 40 years,” expressed Borrajero.