U.S. border officials encountered 234,088 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in April, surpassing the 22-year-old March record by just over 221,000, according to a court document filed Monday.
April marks the fourth time in the Biden administration that monthly border encounters top 200,000. Every undocumented migrant who either presents to authorities at legal ports of entry or tries to cross illegally and gets caught is counted like a meeting.
The May figures are so far consistent with those of April. According to internal Customs and Border Protection data obtained by NBC News, last week CBP encountered an average of just over 7,400 migrants per day. If the trend continues for 30 days, CBP would have a monthly encounter rate of just under 230,000.
The April figure is likely to increase pressure from Republicans and some Democrats on the Biden administration to maintain an anti-Covid public health measure known as Title 42, which has prevented more than 1.7 million migrants to stay in the United States to seek asylum. Those who oppose lifting the order say it could overwhelm an already strained system tasked with processing immigrants, adjudicating their claims and, in some cases, sending them back to their home countries.
In April, 96,908 of more than 234,000 migrants were deported to Mexico under Title 42. The percentage of migrants subject to Title 42 has dropped since the order began in March 2020, in part due to the denial of Mexico to take back the migrants. of certain nationalities and in part because Mexico stops receiving returning migrants whenever its shelters along the border reach capacity.
Department of Homeland Security officials estimate that more than 170,000 migrants who have been subjected to Title 42 are waiting in camps in northern Mexico, hoping to enter the United States when the order is lifted on 23 May, and say others may be motivated to leave their home country. and try to emigrate.
Judges in Texas and Louisiana could issue orders in the coming days that would, at least temporarily, keep Title 42 in place.