The Biden administration has struggled for months with the uptick in people entering the US unlawfully, an often-dangerous route that puts vulnerable populations at risk.
The 21-day average for border encounters is around 40,000 per week, a Department of Homeland Security official told CNN, adding that the pace continues to strain resources and put migrants in danger.
Around 60% of the people detained by Customs and Border Protection were rapidly expelled under a controversial pandemic-era health order first enacted during the Trump administration, the data shows.
Earlier this week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas declined to provide a timeline for when the administration would lift the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order that allows for the swift expulsion of migrants, known as Title 42.
“We are watching the data, we are watching the science led by the CDC, and we will no longer rely upon Title 42 when there is no longer a public health imperative basis to do so,” Mayorkas told lawmakers during a House panel hearing Wednesday.
DHS declined to comment Friday as the May numbers have not yet been finalized.
In April, more than 178,000 migrants were encountered at the US-Mexico border, a slight increase over March, for the highest one-month total in two decades, according to the most recent publicly available data.
“CBP continues to see a large influx of illegal migration along the Southwest Border,” Troy Miller, Customs and Border Protection senior official performing the duties of the commissioner, said in a statement earlier this month when announcing the April data.
Earlier this year, the unaccompanied children in Border Patrol custody surged, leaving thousands of children stuck in jail-like facilities for longer than the 72 hours allowed under the law and the Biden team scrambling to manage the situation. Since then, the number of children in Customs and Border Protection custody has dropped significantly.
In recent weeks, the average time unaccompanied children spent in Border Patrol custody remained below 30 hours, according to the preliminary data.
At the same time, the data shows a small but steady increase in the number of families that were allowed to enter the US at ports of entry along the border.
During one week in May, 900 family members were processed, up from around 775 the week prior and 680 the week before that. It’s unclear what to attribute the increase to.