A growing number of Mexicans, Hondurans, Cubans, and Venezuelans are crossing the US-Mexico border, while some US policies may continue to funnel migrants into dangerous territory.

According to statistics released this week by US Customs and Border Protection, the number of migrants encountered at the US-Mexico border fell slightly last month compared to the previous month, but is still on track to surpass last year’s record-breaking totals.

“Repeat crossers” and other factors may skew the numbers, making them appear larger than they are, but the sheer number and variety of migrants arriving at the Southwest border remain at historic highs, according to Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America, a research and advocacy organization.

The majority of people say yes. According to CBP statistics, border agents and officials encountered 199,976 migrants at the Southwest border, a 4% decrease from June’s total of 207,933. However, from October 2021 to July 2022, 1.947 million migrants were encountered at the border. That figure is already higher than the 1.7 million reported for the entire fiscal year last year, which was the highest on record at the time.

According to border officials, 22% of those apprehended at the border were “repeat crossers,” or those apprehended more than once in a year, which may overestimate the total number, Isaacson said. Even with repeat crossers, the numbers are on track to break previous records.

Border agents and officials continue to detain and deport migrants at the border under Title 42, a pandemic-era rule that allows agents to detain migrants without processing their asylum claims in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. According to CBP statistics, 74,573 migrants encountered at the Southwest border – or 37% – were deported from the United States under Title 42 in July.

Many immigrants avoid Title 42 and are admitted to the United States to face removal proceedings because the United States lacks diplomatic relations with their home country or certain regions of Mexico refuse to accept them. Under court order, the Biden administration has kept Title 42 in place.

Many of those who are expelled under the public health order and end up in dangerous northern Mexico towns simply cross again to seek asylum, according to Jason De León, executive director of the Tucson-based Colibri Center for Human Rights.

Title 42 also puts migrants in danger by forcing them to cross in more desolate and dangerous areas, he claims.

This criticism is similar to others leveled at border policies. Advocates have long claimed that stronger border barriers, such as border walls, force crossers into more remote areas or risky crossing methods, resulting in more rescues and deaths. Title 42 creates similar pressures, according to De León.

Border agents have already conducted 18,897 search-and-rescue operations this fiscal year through July, breaking the previous year’s record of 12,883 events.

Just over half – 52% – of migrants encountered at the US-Mexico border came from Mexico and the three Central American “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

According to CBP statistics, other countries with large influxes of citizens at the Southwest border include Cuba (20,159), Venezuela (17,651), Colombia (13,459), and Nicaragua (12,076). In addition, 5,396 Haitians were apprehended at the border.

The surge in migrants to the US-Mexico border from countries that were not previously common sources of migration points to a global trend of people fleeing pandemic-ravaged economies and unstable governments, according to Isacson.

Another factor driving migrants to the US-Mexico border is a strong job market in the United States, according to Tony Payan, director of the Mexico Center at Rice University in Houston. According to U.S. labor statistics, the labor market added more than 500,000 jobs last month, exceeding expectations, and the unemployment rate fell to a pre-pandemic level of 3.5%.

Yes, but their numbers are dwindling. Unaccompanied minor encounters fell 13% from 15,255 in June to 13,299 in July. Border agents have encountered over 128,000 unaccompanied minors so far this fiscal year.