U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents encountered 178,622 illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border in April, the highest one-month total in two decades, according to data released Tuesday.
The number represents a 3 percent increase from the previous month. Meanwhile, the number of single adults arrested by U.S. agents at the border grew to more than 111,000 in April — the highest monthly total in more than a decade — as Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) used the Title 42 public health order to return most of them to Mexico.
As migrants are returned to Mexico, many make multiple attempts to enter the country illegally. The agency estimates that roughly 40 percent of the adults they arrest are repeat offenders.
Meanwhile, the number of unaccompanied minors taken into CBP custody dropped 9 percent last month, and the number of migrants traveling as part of family groups declined 7.5 percent, the agency’s figures show.
Officials say crossings have begun to level off after Mexican authorities stepped up enforcement, deploying 10,000 soldiers and police officers along the country’s southern border with Guatemala.
“CBP continues to see a large influx of illegal migration along the Southwest Border,” the agency’s interim commissioner, Troy Miller, said in a written statement.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the number of migrant children being held in federal facilities has more than doubled in the past two months.
More than 21,000 migrant children are being held in a network of some 200 facilities across two dozen states, according to confidential government data obtained by the AP. Several of the facilities, which are run by the Department of Health and Human Services, currently house more than 1,000 children each.
While Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has blamed “poverty, high levels of violence and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries” for the influx, Republicans have said it is Biden who is at fault for the surge, after he loosened immigration restrictions.
Biden rescinded the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols and reinstated “catch and release.” Experts say Biden’s plan to create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants has served as an incentive for migrants to attempt to cross the border.
As Biden reversed a number of Trump-era immigration policies, the administration also curbed interior enforcement by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, causing deportations to fall to 2,962 last month — the lowest level on record.
Still, the administration has argued that the situation is not a “crisis.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki recently faulted the “nature of” media as having been a “big driver” behind the use of the term “crisis” when referring to the situation at the U.S.–Mexico border.
During an interview with The Axe Files with David Axelrod podcast Thursday, Psaki claimed that the migrant surge “wasn’t really a crisis,” just a “huge challenge.”
However, Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona rebuked the administration’s claims, saying last week that “the reality is that this is a crisis.”
“We all know it, and the federal government must do more to address this surge of migrants who are coming to the border with increasing numbers each year,” she said.