Title 42 end: May border encounters stagnant, but ports see record-high numbers

Border Patrol Custody Death
FILE – Migrants wait in line adjacent to the border fence under the watch of the Texas National Guard to enter into El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, May 10, 2023. U.S. authorities say an 8-year-old girl died Wednesday, May 17, in Border Patrol custody, a rare occurrence that comes as the agency struggles with overcrowding. The Border Patrol had 28,717 people in custody on May 10, the day before pandemic-related asylum restrictions expired, which was double from two weeks earlier, according to a court filing. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton, File) Andres Leighton/AP

Title 42 end: May border encounters stagnant, but ports see record-high numbers

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More than a quarter of a million immigrants turned up at the U.S. border in May, with a growing percentage choosing to surrender to federal customs officials at ports of entry rather than crossing illegally, according to newly released government data.

A total of 273,141 non-U.S. citizens were encountered at the United States’s sea, air, and land border last month, including 170,284 who were arrested by Border Patrol agents for entering illegally and 102,857 who were denied entry at a crossing point, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection numbers published Tuesday.


“As a result of comprehensive planning and preparation efforts, there has been a significant reduction in encounters along the Southwest border since the return to full Title 8 immigration enforcement on May 12,” said Senior Official Performing the Duties of CBP Commissioner Troy A. Miller in a statement.

The 273,141 was within 1% of the 275,266 total encounters on the Canadian, Mexican, and coastal regions of the border in April.

Encounters have remained at all-time highs in the two and a half years since President Joe Biden took office and peaked at 302,041 in December 2022 before dropping to 208,500 in January of this year.

But the data show early signs that the Biden administration’s preparations for ending public health policy Title 42 on May 11 have had an effect on immigrants and where they choose to come across.

More than 102,000 people presented themselves to CBP officers at ports of entry, making it the highest month ever for port of entry encounters. CBP did not clarify if immigrants who applied for appointments through the CBP One app to meet with customs officials were counted in the port encounters.

At the same time, more than 170,000 people crossed illegally and were caught by Border Patrol. That number is on par with the 131,000 to 224,000 Border Patrol arrests in each of the past six months.

The conclusion of Title 42 on May 11 meant immigrants caught illegally entering the country would be barred from seeking admission legally for five years and they could face prosecution for the federal crime of unlawful entry under Title 8. It prompted many immigrants to attempt to get into the U.S. while Title 42 was still on the books.

CBP added that half of the 170,000 arrests occurred from May 1-11, while the other half occurred from May 12-31 — a sign that its expansion of legal ways that people could apply for admission after Title 42 was increasingly appealing to people.

More than 43,000 Border Patrol arrests were of Mexicans, while 26,000 were of Venezuelans. Just 140 people of the 170,000 were arrested on the Canadian border.


The Biden administration had touted a 56% drop in border crossings in the week since Title 42 expired, arguing the measures put in place to deter migration were working.

Title 42 was initially implemented in March 2020 and allowed border officials to turn away any illegal immigrant rather than take people into custody and risk spreading the coronavirus in confined settings. With Title 42 gone, the Biden administration reverted to Title 8 and set up new avenues for legal immigration.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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