Customs and Border Protection encountered about 50,000 migrants at the US-Mexico border in August alone, acting Commissioner Mark Morgan announced Friday, marking an increase from July when about 40,000 migrants were encountered.
Mark Morgan dismissed the uptick Friday, saying in a news briefing that as a result of public health law, the administration is able to quickly remove migrants who are arrested — a move that’s been severely challenged in court and criticized by lawmakers and immigrant advocates.
“The numbers become less important because the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP)] order gives us the authority to do exactly what we need to do to protect American people,” Morgan said during the news briefing in Laredo, Texas.
He also said that there’s been a surge in the number of migrants who repeatedly try to enter the US.
Morgan said migrants are a public health threat to the U.S, saying that they “continue to disregard the medical professionals as well as our laws in an attempt to illegally enter the U.S on a daily basis.”
U.S President Donald Trump has been known not to trust the advice of experts such as Dr. Anthony Faucci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist.
Asked how many migrants have tested positive to COVID-19, Morgan said only a small percentage are coming into custody and being tested as a result of the public health order.
Morgan also praised the construction of Trump’s border wall.
“The wall is and will continue to allay all these threats,” he said. “Without hesitation, we are going to make our promise and we are going to have 450 miles of wall system in the ground before the end of year 2020.”
Of the roughly 307 miles done so far, the majority that’s been built is in place of the old, dilapidated structure, and around seven miles of the barrier was put up where none previously existed, according to CBP.
The US-Mexico border wall has been the bedrock of Trump’s presidency. Over the past three years, Trump has stirred controversy in his attempts to use military money for wall construction after Congress refused to provide the funds requested, floated ideas on the wall’s appearance that surprised officials, and regularly mention the ongoing construction as an achievement.
“My administration has done more than any past administration in the history of America to secure our southern border. Our southern border has never been more secure,” Trump noted in June during a visit to the wall.
Since February 2017, around $15 billion has been identified to construct approximately 738 miles of new border wall system using DHS, DOD, and Treasury Forfeiture Fund money.
That includes miles that have been built, those still under constructions, and miles in the pre-construction phase, according to CBP.
President Trump set a goal of 450 miles to be completed. To achieve this goal, however, the President has taken bold steps to hold up funds, including last year’s national emergency declaration.
Trump administration has also renounce numerous environmental and contracting laws to speed up construction.
In February 2019, Trump declared a national emergency in order to secure funds to build his signature wall. The move opened the way for Trump to unlock billions of dollars in federal funds to build additional barriers on the border, bypassing Congress after lawmakers refused to approve multi-billion-dollar funding requests. This year, the White House renewed the emergency despite a decrease in illegal US-Mexico border crossings.