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In total, more than 172,000 migrants were apprehended at the border in March, officials said, marking a 15-year high in monthly crossings. Of these, the majority – over 100,000 – were expelled almost immediately. That’s because the Biden administration continued to use Title 42, a public health authority former President Donald Trump invoked in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic to deport migrants without letting them seek asylum. .

About 28 percent of those arriving at the border were repeat crossers who had been deported previously, officials said.

Meanwhile, more than 52,000 migrant families arrived in March, officials said. More than 17,000 – nearly a third – of the families have been evicted under Title 42. Biden said he wanted Mexico accepts return of all migrant families arriving at the US-Mexico border, but Mexico is often unwilling or unable to receive them.

In the immediate term, the Biden administration continued to take steps to increase the capacity of shelters and reduce the time required to release unaccompanied minors to approved sponsors, such as a parent or family members. As of Tuesday, there were more than 20,000 unaccompanied children – 4,228 in CBP custody and 16,045 in HHS care, according to preliminary daily figures provided by DHS and HHS.

On the call, administration officials expressed optimism about their progress in moving children out of CBP custody – which is widely viewed as inadequate for child care – and into custody. of the HHS. Officials said the 30-day average of the number of children transferred out of CBP custody fell from 276 children at the end of February to 507 at the end of March.

“We are going in the right direction, but we know we have a lot of work to do,” said an administration official.

Officials also stressed that Congress must take action to reform the existing U.S. immigration system. For decades, Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

“Congress really needs to act,” said another official. “We really need to fix the system. If we don’t deal with legal immigration, it doesn’t matter who is president. We will run into this problem over and over and over again. “

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