Despite a significant decrease from May, apprehensions of migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally last month set a record for any June with available data, government figures disclosed on Friday show.
U.S. Border Patrol reported processing migrants 191,898 times along the southern border in June, a nearly 14% drop from May, when the agency carried out over 222,000 apprehensions, an all-time. The previous record for June was reported last year, when Border Patrol carried out 178,649 arrests.
Another 15,518 migrants were processed by U.S. authorities at government ports of entry, where the Biden administration has been admitting some asylum-seekers it has deemed to be vulnerable, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics, which were submitted to a federal court in Texas.
The high levels of migrant detentions, driven in part by record arrivals from countries beyond Mexico and Central America's Northern Triangle and a significant rate of repeat unlawful crossings, have continued to strain the roughly 23,000 U.S. immigration agents and officers stationed along the border with Mexico.
The unprecedented levels of unauthorized migration to the southern border have also posed dire humanitarian and operational challenges for the U.S. government, and become a political liability for President Biden, who promised to create a "humane" and "orderly" system by reversing hardline Trump-era policies.
Taking into account June's numbers, U.S. border authorities have processed migrants over 1.7 million times in fiscal year 2022, a tally that exceeds the previous record set in 2021, even with three months left before the start of the next fiscal year in October.
Still, the decrease in apprehensions last month may signal that border arrivals are plateauing during the hot summer months — as has been the historical trend — after soaring to record levels this spring. June's tally of migrant arrests reversed a four-month upward trend that saw three months register over 200,000 apprehensions each.
"While fluctuations are normal from month to month, we saw a 14% decrease in encounters compared to the previous month," CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement. "We are committed to implementing our strategy of reducing irregular migration, dissuading migrants from undertaking the dangerous journey, and increasing enforcement efforts against human smuggling organizations."
Just over 90,381, or 47%, of the Border Patrol apprehensions in June led to migrants being quickly expelled to Mexico or their home country under a pandemic-era emergency policy known as Title 42 that a federal court required the Biden administration to keep in place, Friday's data show.
Those processed under Title 42 are expelled on public health grounds without a chance to seek asylum, a right protected by U.S. law. But not all border-crossers are processed under Title 42, and the policy's application depends on migrants' nationality, age, vulnerability, the sector where they enter the U.S. and other factors.
In June, CBP officials along the southern border reported processing single adult migrants 140,196 times; parents and children traveling as families 51,780 times; and unaccompanied minors 15,271 times, agency figures released Friday show. Roughly 56% of single adults and 27% of families were processed for expulsion under Title 42 last month.
Migrants who are processed under U.S. immigration law rather than expelled under Title 42 can be released with a court notice, sent to long-term detention centers or deported under regular deportation procedures, including a program known as "expedited removal."
Unaccompanied migrant children who are not from Mexico are transferred to Department of Health and Human Services shelters, where they remain until they are placed with a sponsor, typically a relative in the U.S., or until they turn 18. Families with children who are not expelled are typically released with a notice to appear in immigration court, since the Biden administration discontinued the long-term detention of minors.
Migrant adults traveling without children are the population most affected by Title 42, since many of them are from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, the nationalities the Mexican government allows the U.S. to expel to its territory. Single adults who are not expelled are typically released with a court notice or detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In June, U.S. immigration officials deported 12,888 migrants under regular deportation procedures, while carrying out 79,652 releases, according to government statistics submitted to the federal court in Texas on Friday.
While there was an increase in apprehensions of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, and El Salvador in June compared to May, arrivals from the other top migrant-sending countries of Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua, Haiti and Brazil decreased.
More than 66,000 of the migrant encounters in June involved Mexicans, 24,617 involved Guatemalans, 23,972 involved Hondurans, 16,170 involved Cubans, 13,194 involved Venezuelans, 12,594 involved Colombians, 11,204 involved Nicaraguans, 9,094 involved Salvadorans, 4,084 involved Haitians and 4,025 involved Brazilians, CBP data show.