Those figures only account for migrants who were detected as they crossed into the country via unofficial channels. They do not include the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who are processed at official ports of entry, or those who managed to bypass Customs and Border Patrol agents entirely.
As CBS News reports, while some migrants are ordered to return to Mexico or face deportation, the majority are released into the interior under the condition that they agree to appear for immigration court proceedings.
There is currently a 2 million case backlog in the US immigration court system, meaning many migrants will have been in the country for years before they actually take part in a hearing to determine their eligibility to stay.
In a statement, the DHS said the agency is "clear eyed" that there is "no long-term solution to the challenges we are seeing at our border that does not involve the US Congress modernizing our hopelessly outdated immigration and asylum system."
The agency blamed the rising numbers in part on coyotes' use of "misinformation to prey on vulnerable individuals," and vowed to "strengthen consequences" for those who make the crossing.
Illegal immigration remained relatively steady between 2009 and 2020, save for a slight increase in 2019. In 2020 there were less than half a million interactions between CBP officers and migrants, however when Biden took office the following year, that number skyrocketed to nearly 2 million.
The impacts of the crisis have been felt not only at the border, but in states as far away as New York, as migrants continue to be shuttled to cities across the country.
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