WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of unaccompanied children and families entering the United States illegally through the Mexican border fell sharply in May but remained unusually high, authorities said on Wednesday.
There were 14,158 unaccompanied children seen last month, up from 17,148 in April and an all-time high of 18,951 in March. May’s number was the third highest on record.
While calming down since March, large numbers of people arriving at the border have gravely defied the Biden administration. Vice President Kamala Harris sent a message to those planning the trip during her visit to Guatemala City on Monday: “Don’t come.
The administration quietly released numbers on its website again at the end of the day, a break from the Trump presidency, when officials released monthly counts with more fanfare and answered questions from reporters.
Overall, there were 180,034 recoveries at the Mexican border in May, little change from 178,854 a month earlier, with the increase largely due to single adults. The total number of meetings is nearing 20-year highs, although they are not directly comparable, as deportations under pandemic-related powers that deny the possibility of seeking asylum have no legal consequences, encouraging people to make repeated attempts.
President Joe Biden has kept in place Trump-era rules that allow border workers to be deported, usually within two hours, for public health reasons in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Meetings with family members totaled 44,794 in May, up from 50,228 in April. Only one in five who came with their families in the last month has been deported under an authority related to the pandemic.
Nearly nine in ten single adults have been deported due to the public health emergency. Unaccompanied children are exempt from deportation and allowed to stay in the United States to seek asylum.