FIRST ON FOX: There were more than 200,000 migrant encounters at the southern border in August, a DHS source told Fox News on Wednesday, the second month in a row where the number has been over the 200,000 mark as migrants continue to attempt to enter the U.S.
The source told Fox that there were 208,887 encounters in August. While it marks the first decrease in migrant encounters seen under the Biden administration, where migrant encounters have been sharply rising for months, it is only a 2% drop over the more than 212,000 encounters in July.
Additionally, the 208,887 number for August represents a 317% increase over last August 2020 which saw 50,014 apprehensions — and a 233% increase over August 2019, where there were 62,707 apprehensions during that year’s border crisis.
Of those encounters, 49% were single adults, down 7% from July. Of the encounters, 44% were expelled via Title 42 public health protections put in place under the Trump administration and extended by the Biden administration.
The Biden administration has been expelling single adults and some migrant families under the order, implemented due to COVID-19, but has not been expelling unaccompanied children or migrant families with young children.
There were 18,847 encounters of unaccompanied children in August, down slightly from July, and 86.487 encounters of family units, marking a 4% increase over July.
A CBP spokesperson told Fox News it does not provide preliminary data before the August data is posted to its website, which they said would be published in coming days.
The Biden administration has faced fierce criticism for its handling of the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, which Republican critics have blamed on the dramatic rollback of Trump-era policies like border wall construction and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). It has also narrowed interior Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) priorities and pushed hard for legalization of illegal immigrants already in the country. It has also been releasing migrants into the interior, processing UACs to sponsors already in the country and releasing migrant families — angering Republican governors and other lawmakers.
The Biden administration has pushed back, blaming the Trump administration for sealing off legal pathways to asylum, while emphasizing the role that root causes — like poverty, violence and corruption in Central America — play in encouraging migrants to travel north.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the administration intended to continue with its border strategy, which he said involves rebuilding “safe, legal and orderly pathways for migrants,” improving processing, and going after smugglers.
“We have a plan, we are executing our plan and that takes time,” he said last month when he announced the July border numbers.
He also told Border agents in audio leaked to Fox News that the situation is “unsustainable.”
“A couple of days ago I was down in Mexico, and I said look, you know, if, if our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose and this is unsustainable,” Mayorkas said. “We can’t continue like this, our people in the field can’t continue and our system isn’t built for it.”
The administration was dealt a significant legal blow recently when the Supreme Court refused to delay an order forcing the Biden administration to re-implement the Migrant Protection Protocols — a Trump-era policy that keeps migrants in Mexico as they await their hearing.
DHS has said it is working on implementing that order in good faith, while a Border Patrol source in La Joya, Texas, told Fox News that they are now sending all families back to Mexico, unless they have a child under the age of 1, or if a migrant is pregnant.
Fox News’ Jennifer Girdon, Bill Melugin and Jonathan Hunt contributed to this report.