Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended 180,034 individuals illegally entering the United States in May, the highest number seen in a single month in 21 years.
The agency said the majority, more than 112,000, were expelled under the Title 42 emergency health provision.
Former President Donald Trump implemented Title 42 in March 2020, which effectively closed the border to nonessential travel in an attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
It allowed for Border Patrol to turn back illegal border crossers almost immediately, rather than for them to be placed in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody for a more protracted process through deportation proceedings under Title 8.
The Biden administration has already exempted unaccompanied children and many family units from Title 42; whereas single adults from Spanish-speaking nations are almost all still subject to immediate expulsion, according to Troy Miller, acting commissioner for CBP. But Border Patrol is also encountering more illegal aliens from non-Spanish speaking nations, Brazil and Haiti in particular, which Miller suggested aren’t being expelled.
The number of unaccompanied minors and individuals within family units dropped in May compared to April, but still made up more than 33,000 apprehensions.
Most of these individuals are released into the interior of the United States with a Notice to Report, meaning the individual is obliged to report to a local ICE office once settled, or a Notice to Appear, meaning the individual is given a date to appear in immigration court.
The Title 42 restrictions have triggered a higher than normal recidivism rate of illegal crossings as single adults repeatedly attempt to cross and evade capture, according to CBP.
During the month of May, 38 percent of Border Patrol apprehensions were individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months. The average one-year re-encounter rate during the previous five years was roughly 15 percent, CBP said.