The surge just keeps on coming.
The number of reported migrant encounters along the US-Mexico border soared to a new high of 234,088 in April — the most in the history of the Department of Homeland Security — with just under 97,000 people summarily expelled under the Title 42 health authority, according to new data from the Biden administration.
The number of encounters in April represented a 5.8% increase from the 221,303 migrant encounters in March. That figure had represented the highest number during the Biden administration, outstripping the 213,593 stops from July of last year.
The new information serves as a warning to border states as officials brace for a massive spike in border crossings once Title 42 is lifted, with some fearing that ports of entry and border processing centers will not have enough capacity or staff to accommodate the potential historic influx of migrants.
In addition, the government reported that Border Patrol facilities were at 203% capacity while Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities were using approximately 68.5% capacity.
The updated information was included in a court filing responding to a lawsuit by the attorneys general of Texas and Missouri supporting the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy toward asylum-seekers. As a result of the lawsuit, a federal judge has required the government to report the total monthly number of encounters and other data since September.
The filing was submitted one week before the Biden administration is set to lift the Title 42 policy, which allows border authorities to quickly expel migrants due to COVID-19 concerns without first hearing their asylum claims. A group of two dozen Republican state attorneys general has challenged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order ending Title 42 and a federal judge has said he will rule on the matter before the effective date of May 23.
The Biden administration’s decision to lift the policy has been heavily criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike.
According to DHS, the largest number of migrants stopped at the border – 41,776 – were encountered in Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas. Two other Texas sectors — Del Rio and El Paso — also saw large numbers of migrants crossing into the US, with 40,855 and 29,838 encountered respectively.
The total number of encounters includes apprehensions of suspected illegal immigrants, inadmissible individuals attempting to legally enter the US, individuals seeking humanitarian protection, individuals who withdraw applications of admission and return to their countries of origin, as well as Title 42 expulsions.
In all, just 96,908 migrants were expelled under Title 42 in April, down from the 109,549 who received the same treatment in March.
It is unclear how many family units or single individuals were among April’s encounters, as DHS and US Customs and Border Protection have not yet publicly released the full data.
Just last week, around 100 immigrants claiming asylum were released into downtown El Paso, Texas as several federal facilities and nonprofit shelters reached their capacity.