National Security

Number of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports

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The number of migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border reached the highest monthly total in 15 years, with more than 170,000 crossings recorded in March, according to preliminary Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data. 

The numbers, obtained by The Washington Post and The New York Times on Friday, showed that the number of recorded crossings in March is up from 78,000 recorded in January, and is the highest recorded since 2006.

In terms of unaccompanied minors, more than 18,500 were detained in March, a 60 percent increase from the previous record of 11,494 in May 2019, according to data reviewed by NBC News.  

The record numbers come after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently said that the border patrol was likely to see a 20-year high in border crossings as the Biden administration faces mounting pressure to address the surge in migrants. 

While President Biden said in a press conference last week that the influx of migrants in recent months is consistent with patterns that happen “every single, solitary year” in the winter months, the Post reported Friday that the largest two-month increase in 2019 was 45,000 migrants. 

The number of migrants arriving in March 2021 increased by more than 90,000 since January. 

The all-time record for monthly border crossings was set in March 2001, when CBP detained nearly 173,000 migrants at the border, NBC reported. 

The Hill has reached out to CBP for additional information on the data. 

The Biden administration has struggled to keep up with the rising number of migrants, particularly unaccompanied children at the border, with hundreds of minors being kept in CBP facilities for longer than the legally allowed 72 hours as they await bed space at emergency shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

As of late last week, the U.S. was in custody of at least 15,000 migrant children. 

While Biden has said that the administration is working to place children with legal and educational services upon being detained, the administration has continued the health order set by former President Trump to rapidly return migrant adults to Mexico during the pandemic. 

The administration has faced bipartisan criticism from lawmakers over the migrant surge, as well as the conditions inside CBP facilities, which Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) late Wednesday called “barbaric” and “horrifying.”

On Thursday, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and John Cornyn (R-Texas) wrote a letter to committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) requesting a hearing on the migrant surge at which Biden administration officials would be called to testify. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also said Thursday after visiting the U.S.-Mexico border that it is “past time” for Congress to address immigration reform, while also joining Republicans in calling the border surge a “crisis.”

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Biden Border crossings border surge child migrants Chuck Grassley Customs and Border Protection Department of Homeland Security Dick Durbin Donald Trump Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Cornyn NBC News New York Times The Washington Post U.S.-Mexico border

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