Homeland Security said Wednesday that it tallied more than 180,000 encounters with illegal immigrants in May, keeping up a pace that’s the worst in 20 years.
But the flow is shifting, with single adults increasing, while the number of families and children traveling alone drops.
Also, more of those families are choosing to show up at border crossings and demand entry through asylum claims. That number more than doubled from 1,797 in April to 3,931 in May, CBP said.
But more of them are being allowed to stay, too. Despite the pandemic border shutdown that’s supposed to see most of them expelled, 38% of the people nabbed were admitted.
That amounts to tens of thousands of people.
Overall, CBP recorded 180,034 encounters with unauthorized border crossers. The vast majority, 172,011, were arrests made by Border Patrol, which is actually slightly lower than the previous month. The rest were encounters with CBP officers at the border crossings, which rose 55%.
The rate of children and families nabbed by the Border Patrol fell from about 38% of all encounters in April to about 32% in May.
Combined, the last three months mark the worst period of illegal immigration in more than 20 years.
Analysts say President Biden’s policy changes are responsible for the surge.
His team has canceled a number of Trump-era policies that had worked to tamp down on illegal migration by denying border jumpers a foothold in the U.S.
Mr. Biden called those policies cruel and erased them, though he also has claimed that surges such as this year’s are regular occurrences.
Former President Trump on Wednesday blasted that thinking.
“Our recently secured southern border is now worse than ever before,” he said in a statement ahead of the new numbers. “At no time in our country’s history has anything so outrageous taken place.”
He said combined with less enforcement by deportation officers at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, serious criminals are being released into communities.
“In the history of our country, it has never been more dangerous or worse,” he said.
During the last three months, CBP has nabbed 532,225 border jumpers. During the same three months in 2019, when Mr. Trump was facing a border surge, CBP nabbed 357,262.
CBP said the recent border numbers are inflated by repeat-offenders, or recidivists.
“Thirty-eight percent of encounters in May 2021 were individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months,” the agency said.
In 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, which also saw a border surge, the recidivism rate was just 7%.