A Million More Border Arrivals in May than in April — Mostly in the South

By David North on August 5, 2020

Topic Page: Covid-19 and Immigration

The Department of Homeland Security's efforts to help contain the Covid-19 virus crisis by limiting border crossings have sprung a leak on the southern land border.

There were 3,359,795 border-crossings in May at the five largest ports of entry along the southern border, almost a million more than in the prior month. Meanwhile, crossers at the five largest ports on the northern border increased a bit, but stayed under 100,000.

Border April 2019
April 2020
May 2020
Pct. Difference,

2020 Arrivals
Five Largest
Ports of Entry, North
2,441,228 67,181 87,859 + 31%
Five Largest
Ports of Entry, South
8,314,842 2,442,754 3,359,795 +38%

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

As we noted earlier, the traffic at the northern border has been reduced much more sharply than it has been on the border with Mexico.

The port at San Ysidro, just south of San Diego, the world's busiest land port of entry and one of the five major southern ports we have been following, admitted 1,019,554 people in cars and another 295,421 pedestrians during May. All of whom were supposed to be engaged in "essential travel" according to the president's proclamation of March 20, 2020.

Just how the officers at San Ysidro can appropriately make more than 1.3 million favorable decisions a month on the admission of these border-crossers, even if the arrivals were spread evenly through the 24 hours of the day, is hard to imagine. That would be, if my math is correct, more than 1,750 an hour, for each and every hour of the day. Most of those admitted would be U.S. citizens or green card holders, many of whom will have crossed multiple times during the month.

The news of these numerous admissions — on the southern border only — comes as my colleague Todd Bensman describes the arrival of numerous Covid-19 cases on that border.

Could we be doing better at those southern ports?

The author is grateful to CIS intern Jackson Koonce for his research assistance.