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Customs and Border Protection encountered more than 200,000 individuals at the southern border in July, reaching a number not seen in two decades, according to preliminary figures referenced by a senior Department of Homeland Security official in a court filing Monday.


The number of individuals encountered at the border is the highest since fiscal year 2000, according to CBP records. Unauthorized migrants encountered by CBP in the border region are arrested and detained for processing. So far this year, the majority have been expelled under Title 42, a decades-old section of the public health code implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, but more than 300,000 have been remanded to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody or released with future court dates.

Border crossings have been increasing, rising every month since October 2020. Last month, 188,829 migrants attempted to cross the border, according to CBP, reaching 210,000 encounters with individuals at the southern border in July. By comparison, in July 2019, CBP encountered 81,000 individuals attempting to cross the border, and in July 2020, the number was 40,000.

The filing came in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups seeking to overturn the Title 42 restrictions along the southern border. The Trump-era measure currently restricts anyone coming into the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coalition of advocacy groups fighting Title 42 expulsions argue the measure illegally restricts access to asylum opportunities for those fleeing violence and persecution. Immigration officials have acknowledged the rapid nature of the expulsions — with some carried out in less than 24 hours.

While Shahoulian suggested the number of border crossers were unique individuals, typically when CBP reports encounters it includes those who have made multiple crossing attempts. In June, for example, about a third of migrants arrested at the border had attempted to cross at least once before in 2021.

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