View of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's temporary processing facilities in Donna, Texas, in February 2021. The facility was constructed to process family units and unaccompanied children encountered and in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol. File Photo by Jaime Rodriguez Sr/U.S. Customs and Border Protection | License Photo
Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Migrant encounters with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the border with Mexico fell to their lowest level since March 2021.
Data from the agency shows that the number of migrant encounters fell from 179,219 encounters in December to 153,941 in January, a decrease of 14%.
The number of monthly migrant encounters peaked in July at 213,593 as President Joe Biden faced criticism for undoing policies created under former President Donald Trump, including the controversial "Remain in Mexico" program.
Remain in Mexico, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols, prevents migrants seeking asylum from entering the United States before immigration courts review their applications.
Biden had sought to end the program, created under former President Donald Trump in 2019, last summer but was ordered by a federal judge to reinstate it in August, when the number of migrant encounters dropped to 209,840 from their July peak.
The Supreme Court said Friday it would hear an appeal challenging the controversial "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy amid efforts from President Joe Biden's administration to undo the program.
The number of migrant encounters further fell to 192,001 in September and 164,826 in October before small gains in November and December.
Though the number of migrant encounters dropped largely across most countries and demographics in January, there was an increase in the number of migrants originating from Mexico.
CBP data shows that there were 59,846 encounters with Mexican migrants in January, up from 51,462 in December. However, the number of Mexican migrants in December came after a sharp drop of more than 12,000 encounters compared to November.
Most of the encounters with migrants from Mexico were labeled as having been processed under Title 42, a policy from the Trump administration that allows for their immediate expulsion from the country for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Title 42 expulsions have gradually decreased overall from their peak of 113,392 in May 2021.