EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The number of unauthorized migrants taken into custody at the southern border continued to climb in the month of May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures show.

U.S. Border Patrol agents and CBP officers “encountered” or apprehended 180,034 migrants in May, a slight increase over the 178,000 taken in during April. Along with the 172,000 encounters in March, federal immigration officials have now detained more than 530,000 foreign nationals making unauthorized entries in the past three months.

The number of unaccompanied minors, however, plummeted. It dropped 23 percent in May to 10,765 compared to the 13,940 who came across the border in April. Encounters of family units from the Northern Triangle of Central America also dropped, going from 32,674 in April to 22,630 in May – a 31 percent decrease, CBP said.

The average daily number of children in CBP custody decreased significantly to 640 in May 2021 from 2,895 in April 2021. In April, unaccompanied children spent an average of 92 hours in CBP custody. In May, unaccompanied children held in CBP facilities spent an average of 26 hours, the agency said.

CBP also said the large number of expulsions due to the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to multiple illegal entry attempts – migrants who are sent back to Mexico try to cross back time after time. CBP said 38 percent of the May encounters involved individuals who had attempted at least one previous illegal crossing in the past 12 months. The average re-encounter rate from 2014 to 2019 is 15 percent.

The expulsions are taking place under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 public health order to prevent cross-border transmission of COVID-19.

CBP expelled 112,302 single adults and families under Title 42 in May.

An increased amount of illegal drugs also made their way to the U.S. border last month.

CBP figures show an 18 percent increase in drug seizures in May compared to April. Methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl were seized in greater amounts, while those involving cocaine dropped.

Meth seizures increased 53 percent month-to-month, followed by fentanyl (9 percent) and heroin (7 percent). Seizures in fiscal year 2021 through May are now 56 percent higher than in all of FY 2020.

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