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DIGGING DEEPER: Illegal influx threatens US immigration system to breaking point

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TUCSON (KVOA) - The number of people illegally entering the U.S. continues to rise, and it's threatening to push our nation's immigration system to the breaking point.

Back in July, the Border Patrol reported nearly 200,000 encounters with illegal immigrants along the southern border.

It is the highest monthly total in more than 20 years. Also, the number of people coming from places other than Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Central America​ is surging.

Calling the situation on the border out of control, Gov. Doug Ducey extended the stay of National Guard troops in southern Arizona for another year last month. 

The previous month, Customs and Border Protection reported more than 212,000 encounters with illegal crossers on our nation's southern border.

Tucson immigration attorney Mo Goldman told the Digging Deeper team that people who are making their way to the U.S. face enormous challenges, and he expects the numbers to keep going up.                       

"Not only are people risking their lives potentially and giving up everything, but they're spending in some cases their life savings to be able to achieve that goal of making it to the border," Goldman said. 

Border Patrol agents are catching more than just people from Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Central America. They include citizens of India, Romania, Brazil and Venezuela.

CBP reported about 9,700 encounters with migrants from countries other than Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.​

By July, that number had surged to just over 59,000.

The Migrant Protection Protocols or Remain in Mexico policy enacted under President Trump, allowed the Department of Homeland Security to return those who crossed illegally back to Mexico, to await their removal proceedings. The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld those protocols.   

"Not only are we seeing a significant influx of migrants, but many of them are stuck living in Mexico, and they can't so they can make their claim for asylum and have a fair hearing," Goldman said. 

Goldman adds the current situation at the border could be just the tip of the iceberg, as tens of thousands of people continue to flee violence, oppressive governments and natural disasters.                                 

"There're finite resources," Goldman said. "And you also have the oppression that goes on, and you also have the climate change, and that's a significant recipe for migration." 

It is not just the Arizona governor who is concerned about the illegal influx.

State Attorney General Mark Brnovich is now leading a coalition of 16 states challenging President Biden's immigration policy.

Paul Birmingham

Paul Birmingham is an Investigative Producer for KVOA News 4 Tucson. He is a three time Edward R. Murrow award winner, native Tucsonan, and a proud Arizona Wildcat.

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