Customs and Border Protection agents encountered more than 250,000 illegal migrants in March, a 25% increase from February, officials reported.
According to the agency, 257,910 illegal migrants were encountered in March, about 45,000 more than in February with 213,359.
"CBP works around the clock to perform our vital missions including maintaining border security. Overall, in March, encounters of individuals on the Southwest border between ports of entry were down 23% from the prior year, as we continue to respond to the challenges presented by increasing global migration," CBP Acting Commissioner Troy A. Miller said in a press release announcing the numbers on Monday.
"CBP will continue to enforce our immigration laws and ramp up efforts to combat smuggler misinformation as we prepare to return to expedited removal proceedings under Title 8 authorities, which carry stricter consequences like a five-year ban on reentry and potential criminal prosecution for unlawful entry."
According to the agency, the increase is "typical" for the time of year as the weather warms.
Although encounters overall increased from March 2022 by around 7,000, there were 23% less encounters during that period at the southwestern border, the agency said.
"Border Patrol's 162,317 encounters along the southwest border in March 2023, however, were down 23% from March 2022 (211,181) and down 4% from March 2021 (169,216)," the press release said. "Additionally, the rate of increase from February to March 2023 (25%) for Border Patrol's southwest encounters was less than the rate of increase from February to March 2022 (33%) and February to March 2021 (73%)."
The agency said that 69% of the encounters were with single adults, accounting for 133,256 of the logged interactions, a 19% increase over February.
Forty-six percent of those encountered (87,662) were processed for expulsion under the Title 42 public health regulation, due to end in May.
Of those encountered in March, the agency reported that 123,898 (65%) were "unique" encounters and that 43,958 were "repeat" encounters, with 23% of those having an interaction with border patrol agents in the last 12 months.
CBP also reported an increase of 30% in drug seizures by weight during March, including a 128% increase in cocaine, 22% increase in methamphetamine, 15% increase in heroin, and a 25% increase in fentanyl from February.
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