The number of migrants encountered by U.S. Border Patrol along the U.S.-Mexico border increased by 25% in March as the Biden administration prepares for the expiration of Title 42 in less than a month.
The Border Patrol documented 162,317 encounters of people who entered the country in between ports of entry in March, increasing from 130,024 encounters in February, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.
Total March migrant encounters along the border, including people processed at ports of entry, were 191,900. The number rose nearly 23% from February, per CBP data.
The total number includes repeat crossers, who are people who have been encountered at least once in the previous 12 months.
Nancy and Leo, along with their two children, Alexander, 3, and Gael, 1, speak with a Border Patrol agent while seeking asylum at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry on Nov. 8, 2021, in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. The family, which has faced threats and harassment in Guerrero, Mexico, asked to omit their last names.
The rise in encounters comes on the back of a two-month stretch where Border Patrol recorded the lowest number of migrant encounters along the southwest border since February 2021.
While encounters increased in March, the numbers are still lower than what was seen in March 2022 and March 2021. The uptick also follows historic trends of numbers increasing during spring as temperatures rise.
“CBP will continue to enforce our immigration laws and ramp up efforts to combat smuggler misinformation as we prepare to return to expedited removal proceedings under Title 8 authorities,” CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said in a news release.
In Arizona, CBP’s Tucson sector recorded more than a 41% increase in migrant encounters from February to March, per CBP data. Similarly, there was nearly a 32% increase in the Yuma sector.
Migrants and asylum seekers are detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Yuma County, near the Cocopah Indian Tribe’s reservation, on Dec. 8, 2022. Border Patrol agents estimated the group to be about 700 people.
In March, 87,662 encounters were processed for expulsion under Title 42, the border restriction that has allowed officials to rapidly expel migrants for more than three years.
In March, Title 42 was used the most times in a single month since June 2022, per CBP data.
Title 42, a 1944 public health law that justifies immediate removal without an opportunity to seek asylum, has been used to quickly expel migrants over 2 million times since it was first implemented in March 2020. The policy is set to lapse when the public health emergency is lifted on May 11.