April saw illegal crossings at the nation’s southern border top 234,000 aliens, an increase from the 22-year high 221,000 who crossed the month before.
The U.S. Border Patrol has stated that the May numbers are likely to mark a further rise in the number of illegal entries. The first 10 days of May saw an average of 7,400 encounters per day according to Customs and Border Protection.
The April surge is expected to lead to increased pressure from Republicans and even some Democrats for the extension of Title 42. That public health order adopted during the Trump administration is designed to allow border agents to immediately deport illegal crossers back to their home countries.
Title 42 has blocked the entry of more than 1.7 million illegal immigrants into the country to await the legal outcome of asylum claims. Proponents of the order insist that lifting the order as planned on May 23 will lead to immediate and unprecedented surges of new illegal immigration.
Significant increases in illegal crossings would risk further overwhelming a strained law enforcement system struggling to keep up with processing immigrants and properly handling their legal claims.
During April, almost 97,000 of the 234,000 illegal migrants were immediately expelled at the Mexican border pursuant to Title 42. The overall percentage of illegal crossers sent back under the order has decreased since it was first put in place in March 2020. That drop is partially due to Mexico’s refusal to take back migrants from some nations. Mexico has also refused to accept expelled migrants when its shelters near the border become full.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said that it estimates there are 170,000 illegal migrants camping just across the border in Mexico waiting for the lifting of Title 42.
The question of whether the Biden administration will be permitted to lift the order is now pending in federal court. Two dozen state attorneys general have sued to block Biden’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from ending Title 42. A temporary restraining order was entered by a federal district judge last month to keep the order in place.
The future of Title 42 is likely directly tied to the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the order was put in place as a measure to reduce the risk of breakouts of the virus inside the U.S.