Migrant apprehensions in May break monthly record

Associated Press/Dario Lopez-Mills
Migrants walk past razor wire fencing and will be met by U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande river in Eagle Pass, Texas, on May 22, 2022.

U.S. border officials in May apprehended more migrants than in any other month since records have been kept.

The Border Patrol interdicted 222,656 migrants crossing the border without authorization in May, breaking the record of 223,305 Border Patrol apprehensions in March 2000.

A further 16,760 migrants who were encountered at ports of entry were either expelled or put into removal proceedings by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Border Patrol’s parent agency.

While the record number of apprehensions shows a steady stream of migrants flowing throughout the Americas, the record-breaking apprehension number does not necessarily indicate that a record number of migrants presented at the U.S.-Mexico border.

For one, the Border Patrol today has about 17,000 officers, compared to the 9,212 who were on duty in 2000.

And the border two decades ago was much more porous than today’s border, which supports Border Patrol operations with decades of building fencing, walls, roads and other detection infrastructure.

According to Aaron Reichlin-Melnik, policy director at the American Immigration Council, interdiction rates have gone from around 50 percent in the early 2000s to around 75-80 percent, meaning a larger proportion of a smaller group of migrants is being apprehended each month.

“This is not unprecedented,” wrote Reichlin-Melnik on Twitter.

Still, migration patterns worldwide are shifting, and the national origin of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border is diversifying.

While Mexicans remain the single largest national-origin group presenting at the border, apprehensions of Mexicans dropped to 76,887 in May from 82,393 a month before, according to data compiled by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

WOLA’s data also showed that Cuban nationals remained the second largest group at the border, followed by Guatemalans, Hondurans, Colombians and Nicaraguans.

Encounters with Ukrainians dropped precipitously to just 375 in May, compared to 20,118 in April.

May also saw a significant rise in the number of Haitian nationals encountered at the border, with 10,418 encounters compared to April’s 5,704.

The Biden administration has expelled more than 26,000 Haitians to the ravaged Caribbean nation, most under Title 42, the Trump-era pandemic border policy that allows officials to bypass migrants’ right to claim asylum.

The rapidly evolving migration landscape has proven a headache for the Biden administration, as it seeks to avoid the often-criticized enforcement agreements made by the Trump administration with transit countries, while also keeping border numbers down in an election year.

The administration’s attempt to end Title 42, originally scheduled for the last week of May, was delayed by a court injunction, allowing officials to keep expelling migrants under the guise of pandemic protections.

In all, 100,699 people were expelled in May under Title 42, on par with the 99,890 expelled in April.

About half – 165,200 – of all migrants encountered at the border in May were single adults, 14,699 were unaccompanied minors, 59,282 were adults traveling as part of a family unit, and only 235 were registered as minors traveling with their parents or guardians.

Tags El Salvador Guatemala Haiti immigration Immigration Mexico ukraine US-Mexico border

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