Mar 25, 2019

Exclusive: DHS data shows growing surge of migrants at the border

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Data: Department of Homeland Security; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The number of immigrants arrested or turned away at the southern border has continued to climb to levels not seen for years, according to new Department of Homeland Security data obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The surge has been driven by an influx of migrant families and unaccompanied children, according to a DHS official. "At the moment, we have the closest thing to an open border that we've had," said Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney and member of a Homeland Security advisory committee formed by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen several months ago.

  • Detention centers are overcrowded, and immigration officials often aren't able to deport immigrants as quickly through expedited removal procedures.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection have even begun releasing migrant families into the U.S. almost immediately instead of holding them in detention, Mark Morgan, former chief of Customs and Border Protection under President Obama, told Axios. He said this could create an additional incentive for migrants.
"Unless Congress does something, we are where we are on this. There are no levers left to pull."
— Leon Fresco

The big picture: The latest data comes at a time when the Trump administration is trying to make the case that there is a true emergency at the border, in the face of skepticism in Congress and pushback over his national emergency intended to fund a border wall.

  • It also comes during reports of Mexican smugglers using buses for quicker, safer transportation for Guatemalan migrants. Central Americans continue to gather in large groups for the long voyage to the border.
  • The Trump administration is expanding a policy that forces some asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico until their cases are completed. And President Trump has vetoed Congress' efforts to end his declared national emergency.

Between the lines: Families and children who have fled dire circumstances in their home nations are coming to the U.S. for asylum. But there are real logistical issues at the border and in U.S. immigration policy. Immigration is already a complex issue, but it has become an increasingly political one as well.

  • "We're infusing politics, which is making it even further a dysfunctional immigration system," Morgan said.
  • Another reason to be concerned about the numbers: The government's track record for caring for migrant children isn't great.

By the numbers: Historically, the number of border crossers begins escalating around March due to the warmer weather, and it typically doesn't peak until May. The U.S. has had this much border activity in the past, but could reach as many as 1 million apprehensions and inadmissibles this year, according to Morgan — levels not seen for at least a decade.

  • In May 2014 — the peak of the child migrant crisis under Obama— there were almost 69,000 migrants arrested or turned away. In just three weeks of March, there have already been almost 66,000 apprehensions and inadmissibles.
  • One big change: Back when reaching 1 million border enforcement actions in a year was common, the vast majority of migrants were single, Mexican adults who often made multiple attempts to cross the border. Now, DHS is dealing with the complexity of caring for tens of thousands of Central American parents and children. Laws that enabled the quick deportation of single, Mexican adults do not apply.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Infections number tops 140,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health