The crisis at the southern border is showing no sign of slowing, with a continued surge of migrants pouring into the U.S. -- with one former Homeland Security official calling the situation a "national embarrassment."
There were more than 188,000 migrant encounters at the southern border in June, and that number looks set to rise significantly in July. The Associated Press is reporting that preliminary data show more than 210,000 migrant encounters in July. For comparison, there were just over 40,000 apprehensions in July 2020, and 81,000 in July 2019.
Should the numbers even be close to the 210,000 figure, it would be yet another significant blow to the Biden administration’s credibility in handling the crisis at the southern border -- which Republicans, former Trump officials and even some Democrats have blamed on the Biden administration’s immigration policies.
The administration ended Trump-era policies that kept migrants out of the country, like the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which kept migrants in Mexico until their hearings were completed. It also ended the asylum cooperative agreements with Northern Triangle countries and ended border wall construction.
On interior enforcement, it has narrowed enforcement priorities for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and has called for amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country.
The Biden administration has also not been applying Title 42 public health protections, which allow for the rapid expulsion of migrants, to unaccompanied children and only some migrant families. In June, the U.S. saw a 25% increase in apprehensions of migrant family units. Out of 55,000 units apprehended, fewer than 9,000 were expelled via Title 42.
Fox News has reported how a bus station in McAllen, Texas, is being overrun with migrants who are dropped off by the busload and given bus tickets to wherever they want to go in the U.S. as the Biden administration’s policy has focused on quickly processing and releasing migrants into the interior.
Many of those being processed into the U.S. are not being given notices to appear in court, being instead given notices only to report to their local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices when they arrive at their destinations. And with numbers rising, Republicans and former officials have accused the Biden administration of breaking the immigration system entirely.
"They have broken the system. We’ve seen in the last several weeks CBP has let 50,000 illegal aliens come in the front door and out the back door without issuing court dates and notices to appear," former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday.
"There’s an overwhelming number of illegal migrants coming across the border every day, every week, every month and they don’t have the capacity to continue to process them, to hold them, to remove them.
"This crisis that’s been on the border for the last six months is now becoming a national embarrassment," Wolf said.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, meanwhile, has called for the impeachment of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of the crisis.
"It's time to draw a line in the sand, for the sake of our country, our communities, our kids, and those who seek to come here," he tweeted.
Multiple outlets reported that the Biden administration was planning on ending Title 42 for migrant families altogether, but on Monday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would in fact be extending the order -- citing the continued COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement comes amid continued fears about the release of COVID-positive migrants into the U.S.
The Biden administration has denied that its policies are to blame for the surge, instead pointing to "root causes" like poverty, violence and climate change in Central America. It has also noted that in June, even with exceptions to Title 42, more than 104,000 of those apprehended were expelled via the CDC order.
Last week, the administration unveiled its new strategy to target those root causes.
The strategy includes addressing economic insecurity and inequality; strengthening democratic governance and advancing the rule of law; promoting respect for human rights, labor rights and a free press; and countering and preventing violence, extortion and other crimes perpetrated by criminal organizations.
"Ultimately, our administration will consistently engage in the region to address the root cases of migration. We will build on what works, and we will pivot away from what does not work," Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement. "It will not be easy, and progress will not be instantaneous, but we are committed to getting it right."
Harris, who was tasked with leading talks with other countries on solving the root causes, visited Del Rio in South Texas in June after a trip to Guatemala and Mexico but has not made any visits in July or August so far.
She has repeatedly emphasized that it will take time to solve those root causes while also praising DHS for more efficiently processing migrants into the interior of the U.S -- saying the administration has made "extreme progress."
But in a nod to a possible move to a more deportation-focused stance, the Biden administration last week resumed removal flights for those who had been denied asylum in the U.S.
However, the Washington Post reported that many of those on the flight were removed after testing positive for COVID-19 or for having been exposed to someone who tested positive.
Fox News' Bill Melugin, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.