A new migratory wave at the Mexico-U.S. border has led to estimated economic losses in the millions. The Biden administration announced the deployment of 800 additional soldiers to curb the migratory influx at the southern border of the United States. These 800 active-duty personnel will focus on logistical tasks and other activities to allow more Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and officers to return to their primary missions and responsibilities.
To date, the Department of Defense has deployed 2,500 members of the state National Guard to assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the Mexico-U.S. border. The White House reports that another 24,000 CBP agents and officers are deployed at the border, along with 2,600 non-uniformed officers.
These recent surges in massive border crossings have placed U.S. border cities in an emergency situation, exerting increased pressure on the shelter system and further inflaming political tensions related to migration. Estimates indicate daily losses of $500 million due to the immigrant surge affecting border traffic between the United States and Mexico. Authorities have stated that the closure of bridges for commercial traffic has negatively impacted the border economy.
This measure has been implemented in Eagle Pass due to the arrival of around 5,000 migrants in recent days. Over 5,000 migrants have crossed from Monday, September 18th to the present date, solely through the border between Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass, Texas. This has resulted in the deployment of hundreds of Border Patrol agents, CBP, State Guard, and National Guard personnel under bridges 1 and 2 on the U.S. side. The operation at international bridges in this locality has also been suspended.
This is the second suspension of operations at international crossings in the current week. Earlier in the week, cargo processing at the entry port of the Bridge of the Americas – BOTA – in El Paso, Texas, was also closed for the same reason.
In the fiscal year 2022, the Border Patrol recorded 2.2 million individuals crossing the border illegally. Although the figure has decreased in the current fiscal year, estimated at around 1.6 million thus far, it remains a high number. From 1990 to 2006, the Border Patrol recorded figures exceeding one million migrants annually, with a peak of 1.6 million in 2000. Subsequently, the numbers began to decline. Over the past decade, except for 2019, when they rose to 859,501 migrants, the agency recorded less than half a million migrants.
It is worth noting that the figures for the 1990s and 2000s are considered significantly underestimated, often because migrants evaded authorities when entering the United States. Currently, migrants more frequently surrender to authorities in order to seek asylum in the United States.
Dr. Alejandro Díaz Bautista is a Research Professor in International Economics at El Colef and a Visiting Fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies (USMEX) at UCSD’s School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS).