U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data indicates that 2022 has already set a record for the number of migrant deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border, despite there still being three months left in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
As three federal law enforcement officials confirmed, 609 border deaths were reported between Oct. 2021 and June 2022. The previous high of 566 was set last year, after a full 12-month period between Oct. 2020 and Sep. 2021.
A number of senior Border Patrol officials spelled out just how bad the crisis at the southern border has become under the Biden administration.
“It seems like a daily occurrence people are dying,” one official said. “The way it’s going, we could hit 700 [deaths] pretty soon,” another added.
The unsettling surge in migrant deaths, unsurprisingly, coincides with a similar explosion in the total number of migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2022, CBP has already surpassed 2 million total migrant encounters at the border. The agency has also seen a number of record-breaking individual months, most recently in May, which saw 239,416 migrant encounters.
In response to the record death count, a number of Republican lawmakers have doubled down on their efforts to push the Biden administration into action.
“Any needless death at the U.S.-Mexico border is tragic. It is time we fix our broken immigration system — but any reform efforts must begin with securing our borders,” said Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX), who won a June special election in a traditionally Democratic border district.
“Just five days ago, [DHS] Secretary Mayorkas said the border is ‘secure,’ to which I say this is not only intellectually dishonest but also an outright lie,” Flores added.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, meanwhile, argued that the Biden administration’s use of Title 42 — a pandemic public health measure which allows Border Patrol to immediately turn away migrants who illegally enter the country — was a large part of the problem.
“It is past time for this administration and this Congress to abandon deadly border policies, including Title 42, which has made things worse,” said ACLU of Texas policy counsel Shaw Drake.