CBP Announces June 2020 Operational Update
WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today released the agency’s operational update for June 2020, which includes CBP’s actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across borders and the facilitation of essential trade and travel while continuing to secure U.S. borders through drug, weapon and counterfeit seizures.
Enforcing CDC’s Public Health Order
CBP continues to tackle the unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that pose an immeasurable threat to the nation. The implementation of COVID-19 policies allows CBP to quickly return 89 percent of total encounters, minimizing human contact and the risk of spreading COVID-19 and any other infectious diseases to within the United States.
“In June 2020, CBP’s enforcement encounters with people crossing the border illegally totaled less than 33,000 encounters, 65 percent lower than the more than 104,000 encounters during the same month last year,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan. “Single adult Mexican nationals, who are generally seeking economic opportunities, accounted for almost 80 percent of the encounters. While the number of encounters last month are not a surprise, this increase is still extremely concerning as we continue to battle the invisible enemy: COVID-19. Therefore, it is imperative that we continue to build the border wall system and enforce CDC policies aimed at protecting the health of Americans. At the end of the day, CBP will continue to prevent and deter illegal crossings that endanger the life of the American public.”
CBP Enforcement Numbers
In June 2020, CBP’s enforcement encounters with people crossing the border illegally totaled more than 32,512 encounters, 65 percent lower than 104,311 in June of 2019.
CBP enforcement numbers for June 2020 can be found here.
Simultaneously, CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine Operations agents continued to interdict the flow of illicit narcotics across the border. Nationwide, drug seizures increased 50 percent in June from May. Cocaine interceptions were up 69 percent after a significant increase in May. Seizures of methamphetamine (including crystal and liquid methamphetamine) decreased 15 percent. Seizures of marijuana increased by 66 percent and seizures of fentanyl increased 161 percent.
Human Smuggling Operations
CBP also continues to dismantle human smuggling organizations. The use of tractor-trailers and other trucks for criminal activity continues to rise in places such as the Laredo and Rio Grande Valley sectors in Texas, and El Centro sector in California. These smugglers often pack their human cargo into dangerously hot, crowded trailers with no ventilation, no food or water, and typically no means of escape.
“Smugglers will never stop risking the lives of the American people and migrants – they are unscrupulous criminals that would do anything for monetary gain,” Morgan said. “The unconscionable lengths these criminals go to push dangerous drugs and facilitate illegal migration into our county is truly shocking. It is disturbing to see the conditions migrants are put into, often times deprived of food and water, placed in unsanitary environments, and forced into confined spaces increasing the spread COVID-19.”
The men and women of CBP continue to perform life-saving rescues of citizens and migrants, regardless of their circumstance or status. Rescues were up in June from May, for a total of 610 rescues nationwide. Since the start of Fiscal Year 2020, CBP agents have rescued more than 3,381 individuals in a wide variety of circumstances.
“It is vital that migrants understand the dangers of illegally crossing the U.S. border,” Morgan said. “The terrain and blistering summer heat has proven over and over again to be unforgiving, leading to the loss of life for those attempting the journey. Too often our agents are faced with the challenge of recovering drowned victims and finding human remains during their daily operations. This is not something we take lightly and that is why I discourage the illegal journey. Stay home in your country. The journey is not worth your life or the lives of your loved ones.”
Trade and Counterfeit Seizures
Open communication with the trade community continues to be a top CBP priority in helping facilitate legitimate trade in the United States.
The United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and is allowing CBP to better enforce trade laws, support American exporters, and ensure that American consumers are protected, all while benefitting the American economy. As the lead agency for implementation, CBP is working closely with its government partners and the trade community to ensure a smooth transition from NAFTA to the USMCA.
According to a study from the International Trade Commission (ITC), the USMCA would add $68.2 billion to the U.S. economy and create 176,000 new jobs. The agreement will create more balanced and reciprocal trade that supports high-paying jobs for Americans and grows our economy.
Furthermore, CBP continues to protect the American people from the dangers of counterfeits, including those purported to be COVID-related. Since the pandemic began until the end of June, CBP had seized more than:
- 120,000 FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits in 339 incidents. These items were either prohibited for not meeting regulatory/legal requirements, or they were potentially unlicensed;
- 10 million counterfeit face masks seized in 80 incidents;
- 3,000 EPA-prohibited anti-virus lanyards in 95 incidents;
- 20,000 FDA-prohibited chloroquine tablets in 140 incidents; and
- 4,000 tablets of antibiotics, such as azithromycin in 76 incidents.
“CBP is the first line of defense for intercepting illicit trade coming into the United States,” Morgan said. “Earlier this month, CBP officers at the Port of New York/Newark detained a shipment of products suspected to have been produced with forced labor, imprisonment, or other human right violations. The shipment consisted of almost 13 tons of hair products worth over $800,000 dollars presumed to be made with human hair that originated in Xinjiang, China. Not only are they illegal and produced in an inhumane way, they also threaten the reliability of the U.S. supply chain and introduce unfair competition that harms the competitiveness of American businesses.”