There were nearly 190,000 migrant encounters at the southern border in June, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Friday — yet another rise in what were already sky-high border numbers, and bringing the total of encounters in fiscal year (FY) 2021 to more than 1 million.
CBP said that 188,829 migrants were encountered at the southern border, an increase from the 180,034 encountered in May. It is also a sharp rise since when President Biden took office — there were 78,442 encounters in January.
Compared to 2020, the numbers are staggeringly higher. Just 33,049 migrants were encountered in June 2020. It is even higher than the numbers in June 2019, when the border was in the midst of what was then a historic crisis at the border — 104,311 were encountered two years ago.
June's numbers also take the number of encounters in FY 2021 to more than 1 million, with three months left to go. That's in comparison to just over 458,000 in all of FY 2020 and 977,509 in all of FY 2019.
"We are in the hottest part of the summer, and we are seeing a high number of distress calls to CBP from migrants abandoned in treacherous terrain by smugglers with no regard for human life," CBP acting Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement.
"Although CBP does everything it can to locate and rescue individuals who are lost or distressed, the bottom line is this: The terrain along the border is extreme, the summer heat is severe, and the miles of desert migrants must hike after crossing the border in many areas are unforgiving."
CBP said that the numbers are higher in part because of the number of repeat encounters due to migrants being expelled via Title 42 — a Trump-era public health order that the Biden administration is using to quickly return single adults and some migrant families. The agency said 104,907 migrants were expelled via Title 42 in June.
However, the number of unaccompanied children encountered increased by 8%, with 15,253 encounters in June compared to 14,137 in May. Encounters of family units, meanwhile, surged by 25% to 55,805 from 44,746 in May.
Meanwhile, drug seizures were down by 30% overall from May, with methamphetamine seizures decreasing by 22%, but fentanyl seizures increasing by 12%.
The Biden administration has been scrambling to get a grip of the crisis at the southern border, and most of its efforts have gone toward processing migrants into the interior — specifically unaccompanied children and migrant families who are not being returned by Title 42.
The administration has touted how it has emptied Border Patrol facilities, which has led to the release of migrant families into the interior – often without court dates – and the movement of children to Health and Human Services (HHS) facilities. There are currently more than 16,000 in HHS facilities. There has been little emphasis on deporting migrants, other than immediate removals by Title 42.
"They have instituted technology that over the last couple of months has expedited, in a very significant way, processing of people who are arriving at our border," Vice President Kamala Harris said last month.
This has angered Republicans, who have complained about the surge of numbers into the interior, and the distribution of migrants by plane to states, often without lawmakers knowing how many are coming in and when.
Republicans have blamed the surge in migrants on the Biden administration, pointing to its rollback of policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols – which kept migrants in Mexico to await their hearings – and the ending of border wall construction.
States have launched a number of lawsuits against the policies and Texas has begun building its own wall on its southern border.
The Biden administration has instead blamed "root causes" like poverty, violence and climate change in Central America. Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico in June, and the Del Rio Sector in Texas later in the month amid pressure on the matter.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the administration is planning on ending Title 42, at least for migrant families, later this month. Former Trump officials warned that while there may be a slight decrease in the number of encounters (due to fewer migrants having to try multiple times to cross), the number of migrants crossing and being released into the interior will likely rise significantly.
"It doesn't really matter whether it’s this month or early in August, the timing is awful," former acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News last week. "We are in the midst of a historic crisis on that border, and instead of trying to implement measures that try and solve that issue, they’re doing exactly the opposite."
"They’re not prepared for it, I think they’re going to do it, because they want an open borders agenda, but it’s going to be catastrophic," former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Thomas Homan said. "The numbers I think are going to be very, very high."