Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas met with border patrol agents in Rio Grande Valley, Texas during a visit to the southern border. Rio Grande Valley is the site of the nation’s busiest corridor for illegal border crossings. In addition to meeting with department employees, Mayorkas conducted briefings on their readiness and response at the border.
Mayorkas’ Tuesday trip to the southern border came the same day Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) released its monthly operational update for the month of April. According to the update, there were 234,088 total migrant encounters in April, up from 221,303 migrant encounters in the month of March.
“This is attributed to the high number of Ukrainians processed at southwest border ports of entry,” CBP said in its update. “32,288 encounters occurred by Office of Field Operations officers at a port of entry, an increase of 183 percent compared to March.”
The increase in total border crossings came despite a decrease in both unique encounters (157,555) and illegal border crossings (201,800) compared to March.
The CBP data and Mayorkas’ southern border visit came less than a week ahead of the set expiration date for Title 42. According to the latest CBP numbers, 96,098 of April’s migrant encounters (41%) resulted in expulsion under Title 42.
“CBP continues to enforce the CDC’s Title 42 Public Health Order in addition to the agency’s long-standing Title 8 authorities,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement. “When the CDC’s Title 42 Public Health Order is terminated, CBP will once again impose consequences for all unlawful entries by fully exercising its Title 8 authorities, as it used to long before the COVID-19 pandemic.”
However, Title 42 may not expire next Monday as previously planned. A federal judge in Louisiana is expected to rule in favor of 24 states seeking to keep Title 42 in effect while litigation proceeds. The states argue the potential increase in border crossings caused by the expiration of Title 42 may strain their resources.
“While we will likely see an increase in encounters after the CDC’s Title 42 public health Order ends, I have a great degree of confidence that the dedicated men and women of CBP and our multiple agency partners will meet this challenge,” Magnus said. “CBP is surging personnel and resources to the border, increasing processing capacity, securing more ground and air transportation, and increasing medical supplies, food, water, and other resources to ensure a humane environment for those being processed, screened, and vetted.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.