U.S. border authorities stopped people entering the country illegally from Mexico more than 69,000 times in October, the sixth straight monthly increase and the highest level since July 2019.
Mark Morgan, acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner, said deteriorating economic conditions were driving more people to come to the United States.
There have also been large numbers of repeat crossers since March, when U.S. authorities began expelling people entering the country illegally without an opportunity to seek asylum due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mexicans and many Central Americans are sent back to Mexico, the vast majority within two hours.
Recidivism rates — or the percentage of people caught who had tried to cross at least once in the previous year — was 37 percent for those expelled from March through September, according to CBP.
Many were Mexican adults traveling alone.
Morgan told reporters that border authorities had more than 69,000 encounters in October, up from 57,674 in September and 45,139 in October 2019.
It was the highest level since 81,777 in July 2019 during a surge of Central American immigration.
Joe Biden, the presumptive president-elect, has pledged to end many immigration restrictions introduced under President Donald Trump, including a policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for immigration court hearings in the United States.
The Trump administration has built 402 miles of a border wall with Mexico and remains on track to reach 450 miles by the end of the year, according to Robert Perez, CBP’s deputy commissioner.
Biden has said he would cease wall construction.
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