Migrant crossings at the US border increase for the 4th consecutive month | Policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. border officials stopped migrants at the southern border more often for a fourth straight month in May, seemingly unaffected by expectations that pandemic asylum limits might be lifted.

Migrants were arrested 239,416 times in May, up 2% from 235,478 in April and 33% from 180,597 in May 2021, US Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday.

The past few months have been the busiest in decades, but comparisons with pre-pandemic levels are complicated because migrants deported under a public health authority known as Title 42 face no legal consequences, which encourages repeat attempts. Authorities said 25% of encounters involved people who had been arrested at least once in the previous year, compared to 15% in the five years before COVID-19.

The Biden administration planned to end Title 42 on May 23, but a federal judge in Louisiana blocked the movement three days before. Migrants have been deported more than 2 million times without the possibility of seeking asylum since the rule came into force in March 2020.

More than four of May’s 10 encounters were under the pandemic rule, almost all of them single adults. Only about one in six who came to families with children under 18 were subject to Title 42. Unaccompanied children are exempt.

The increase in arrivals included many nationalities, although Ukrainians all but disappeared after more than 20,000 people passed through Mexico in April. The administration said in late April that Ukrainians traveling through Mexico would no longer be allowed at the US border.

In addition to Mexicans, Mexico is taking back people from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador who are being deported under Title 42. Costs, strained diplomatic relations, and other considerations make it harder for the U.S. to deport migrants from other countries.

Cubans, who are rarely treated under Title 42, were the second nationality encountered at the border after Mexicans. There were also many arrivals from Colombia, Haiti and Nicaragua.

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