Border encounters rise slightly to hit new monthly high

Border officials encountered the highest number of people seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border this year in May, with encounters hitting 180,034, up slightly from 178,854 in April.

The figures also reveal a 20 percent drop in border encounters with migrants from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador from their peak, but an increase in encounters with people from Mexico. 

The release of the new figures comes days after Vice President Harris completed a trip to Guatemala and Mexico that was focused on the border. Immigration and border security has been a difficult issue for the Biden administration, with polls consistently showing it is a weak issue for President Biden. 

Republicans have sought to focus some of their political attacks on Biden and Harris over the issue ahead of next year’s midterm elections. 

The new figures show that while migration from Central America has dipped over the past two months and migration from Mexico has seen a slight uptick, border encounters of migrants from other countries rose nearly 20 percent from April to May, and has risen 642 percent since the beginning of fiscal 2021.

In total, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported 68,797 encounters in May with people from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador. Such encounters peaked at 85,637 in March.

Encounters with Mexican migrants rose to 70,630, continuing an upward trend since December.

The increased numbers of Mexicans encountered at the border are regularly attributed to economic factors and cartel violence in the country in part, but also to a U.S. border policy known as Title 42, which allows officials to quickly expel migrants caught at the border under the guise of sanitary protections due to the pandemic.

The quick expulsions have resulted in inflated apprehension statistics at the border on one hand, and high recidivism rates, particularly for younger Mexican adults for whom reattempting crossings has become less onerous.

The policy was put in place by the Trump administration to end what they called “catch and release loopholes,” and despite intense pressure from immigration advocates and some Democrats, the Biden administration has refused to amend Title 42.

While the effect of Title 42 on Mexican migration continues to add significantly to monthly border apprehension numbers, the policy cannot be implemented on all foreign nationals, particularly those who Mexico will not take back once they are apprehended on U.S. soil.

Of the 40,607 citizens of countries other than Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador apprehended in May, only 8,881 were processed through Title 42.

And more adults showed up at the border in May, reversing the trend of unaccompanied minors that provoked severe criticism of the Biden administration’s border management earlier this year.

Encounters with unaccompanied minors — most of whom are not subject to Title 42 — dropped to 14,158 in May from a March high of 18,951.

Conversely, encounters with single adults have risen steadily since February, likely fueled both by Mexican recidivism due to Title 42 and the increase in migrants from other parts of the world.

CBP encountered 121,082 single adults at the border in May, an 8.6 percent increase from the 111,478 single adults encountered in April.

Tags Border crisis border security Immigration Joe Biden
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video