More than 170,000 illegal immigrants were stopped at the US-Mexico border in May, the third straight month that number was exceeded, Axios reported late Monday.
The report, which cited preliminary US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, added that approximately 900,000 migrants have been apprehended between Oct. 1 and the end of last month, the most through eight months of a fiscal year since 2006.
CBP has not recorded more than 170,000 border encounters in three consecutive months since 2000, when at least 180,000 illegal immigrants were stopped in the first four months of that year. Authorities are on pace to apprehend approximately 1.35 million illegal immigrants, the most since 2000, when 1.68 million were apprehended.
The Axios report also indicates that an increasing number of migrants approaching the border come from countries further afield than Mexico the so-called “Northern Triangle” of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. For example, at least 32,000 Ecuadorians and approximately 20,000 Brazilians have been stopped at the frontier since Oct. 1. By contrast, fewer than 40,000 migrants from countries outside of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were apprehended in all of fiscal year 2018.
The preliminary numbers came out hours after Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala, whose president called for the Biden administration to “end more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving.”
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei told CBS News that when President Biden took office in January, “the message changed to ‘We are going to reunite families and we are going to reunite children’ … The very next day the coyotes [smugglers] here were organizing groups of children to take them to the United States.”
Harris was scheduled to hold meetings Tuesday with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who similarly blamed the border crisis on the Biden administration back in March.
“Expectations were created that with the government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants,” he told reporters at the time. “And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so.”