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US border encounters jump amid increased migration from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba

TOPSHOT - Migrants line up as they wait to be processed by US Border Patrol after illegally crossing the US-Mexico border in Yuma, Arizona in the early morning of July 11, 2022.
Allison Dinner/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Migrants line up as they wait to be processed by US Border Patrol after illegally crossing the US-Mexico border in Yuma, Arizona in the early morning of July 11, 2022.

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

US Customs and Border Protection encounters along the US-Mexico border have already topped 2 million so far this fiscal year, according to newly released agency data, with migration from countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba driving numbers up.

In August, migrant encounters jumped to 203,598 along the US southern border, data shows. Of those, 22% involved people who crossed more than once.

The Biden administration continues to enforce a pandemic emergency restriction, known as Title 42, along the border that allows border authorities to turn migrants away but there are limitations based on nationality. Frosty relations with countries like Cuba and Venezuela also keep the US from removing people.

Last month, 55,333 migrants encountered at the border were from Venezuela, Cuba, or Nicaragua, a 175% increase from last August.

“Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest US border,” said CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus in a statement.

Republican governors have criticized the Biden administration about the influx of migrants, focusing on its handling of the US-Mexico border and moving migrants out of state in what Democrats have described as political stunts.

Administration officials conceded in a call with reporters Monday that the increase in migration is a challenge. Asked whether the administration is considering moving migrants into the interior, an official cited ongoing discussion about how to improve processing along the border.

“One solution that we know is not a good solution is for hostile governors to be busing or flying migrants — often misleading them — to places where they had no intention of going with no coordination whatsoever,” the official said.

The Biden administration, officials argued, is focused on ramping up assistance to countries in the Western Hemisphere that host Venezuelan migrants — including Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica — and expanding refugee resettlement to those displaced in the region.

In addition to those efforts, the administration says it’s cutting down on asylum processing so that cases can be heard faster.

The administration has also doubled down on dismantling human smuggling networks by surging over 1,300 personnel in Latin America and around the US border and committing $50 million to the effort. The administration reports nearly 5,000 arrests have been made in the US and across the region as part of the effort.

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