The surge just keeps on coming.
The number of reported migrant encounters along the US-Mexico border soared to a new high of 234,088 in April — the most in the history of the Department of Homeland Security — with just under 97,000 people summarily expelled under the Title 42 health authority and more than 110,000 released into the US, according to new data from the Biden administration.
The number of encounters in April represented a 5.8% increase from the 221,303 migrant encounters in March. That figure had represented the highest number during the Biden administration, outstripping the 213,593 stops from July of last year.
The new information serves as a warning to border states as officials brace for a massive spike in border crossings once Title 42 is lifted, with some fearing that ports of entry and border processing centers will not have enough capacity or staff to accommodate the potential historic influx of migrants.
According to the government, Border Patrol facilities were at 203% capacity in April while Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities were using approximately 68.5% of their capacity.
The updated information was included in a court filing responding to a lawsuit by the attorneys general of Texas and Missouri supporting the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy toward asylum-seekers. As a result of the lawsuit, a federal judge has required the government to report the total monthly number of encounters and other data since September.
The filing was submitted one week before the Biden administration is set to lift the Title 42 policy, which allows border authorities to quickly expel migrants due to COVID-19 concerns without first hearing their asylum claims. A group of two dozen Republican state attorneys general has challenged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order ending Title 42 and a federal judge has said he will rule on the matter before the effective date of May 23.
The Biden administration’s decision to lift the policy has been heavily criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike.
According to DHS, the largest number of migrants stopped at the border — 41,776 — were encountered in Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas. Two other Texas sectors — Del Rio and El Paso — also saw large numbers of migrants crossing into the US, with 40,855 and 29,838 encountered, respectively.
The total number of encounters includes apprehensions of suspected illegal immigrants, inadmissible individuals attempting to legally enter the US, individuals seeking humanitarian protection, individuals who withdraw applications of admission and return to their countries of origin, as well as Title 42 expulsions.
In all, just 96,908 migrants were expelled under Title 42 in April, down from the 109,549 who received the same treatment in March. Of the April expelees, 89,642 (92.5%) were single adults while most of the remainder were members of family units.
By contrast, 110,207 migrants were released into the US last month, 68% more than 65,771 who were turned loose in March. Of the April total, 88,452 were classified as “applicants for admission” under parole, while 21,755 were given notices to appear before an immigration judge at a future date.
On Tuesday, US Customs and Border Protection attributed the record number of border crossings to repeat offenders, claiming the grand total of 234,088 “somewhat” overstated the scope of the crisis.
According to CBP, its officers recorded 157,555 unique encounters — a 2% decrease from March.
Meanwhile, the agency reported that 71% of all recorded encounters — 166,814 — were with single adults, also a 2% decrease from March. Just 12,221 encounters involved unaccompanied children. a 14% decrease from the previous month — but the number of family units stopped in April jumped 45% to 54,773.
“The fact is that our borders are not open, and we will continue to remove those who enter our country unlawfully and have no legal basis to stay,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement.
“While we will likely see an increase in encounters after the CDC’s Title 42 public health Order ends, I have a great degree of confidence that the dedicated men and women of CBP and our multiple agency partners will meet this challenge. After many months of planning, we are executing a comprehensive strategy to safely, orderly, and humanely manage our borders. CBP is surging personnel and resources to the border, increasing processing capacity, securing more ground and air transportation, and increasing medical supplies, food, water, and other resources to ensure a humane environment for those being processed, screened, and vetted.”
Just last week, around 100 immigrants claiming asylum were released into downtown El Paso, Texas, as several federal facilities and nonprofit shelters reached their capacity.
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