A group of migrants arrives in the US after crossing the Rio Grande in a raft piloted by smugglers on March 30, 2021 in Roma, Texas

Daily Mirror Online: LONDON, England – New government statistics reveal that 171,000 migrants came across the southern border in March – the highest monthly total in two decades and nearly double the number that came here in February.

The total about 19,000 unaccompanied minors – a group of immigrants the Biden Administration is desperate contain amid overflowing Customs and Border Patrol facilities, and the race to open new Health and Human Services Facilities that comply with the law.

The statistics on the number of immigrants who were apprehended is just the latest sign of the mounting humanitarian challenge confronting President Joe Biden, undercut his statement that it is part of a seasonal and recurring problem.

The preliminary March arrest totals at the US-Mexico border represent the highest monthly level since April 2000, when border patrol agents caught more than 180,000 migrants.

The total includes about 19,000 unaccompanied migrant children and 53,000 family members traveling together, the figures show. Single adults made up roughly 99,000 of the total.

The Biden administration is struggling to house newly arrived unaccompanied children, who are exempted from expulsion under a COVID-19 health order known as Title 42. Children have been backed up in crowded border stations and processing centers for days.

March immigration by the numbers

 171,000 people trying to cross the Southern border

178 per cent increase from February

Includes 19,000 unaccompanied minors

Highest monthly total since April 2000

53,000 family members

99,000 single adult males

The administration continues to contend with the soaring number of unaccompanied child migrants

An NBC / Marist poll released this week showed 53 per cent of Americans disapproved of Biden’s handling of the border, even as he enjoyed overall positive approval and strong ratings handling the coronavirus.

The shelter system that houses the children has been overwhelmed and US officials have scrambled in recent weeks to open emergency shelters, including sites in convention centers in Dallas and San Diego.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki got asked at her Friday briefing if the administration needed to do more to communicate its message to potential immigrants not to come.

“That continues to be our message and we continue to look for ways to project it more broadly and more effectively in the region,’ she said.  ‘And we don’t feel that simply telling people with more PSAs not to come, that that is going to be the only way to reduce the number of people who are taking the journey.”

She mentioned conversations through envoys with Northern Triangle governments about addressing conditions there and “reducing the temptation to travel”.

Many people fleeing Central American countries have cited physical threats and poor economic conditions there.

“We’re not naive about the challenge,” she said. “But what our focus is on is solutions and actions to help address the unaccompanied minors that are coming across the border, and making it less of an incentive to come.”

Migrants attend Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mission, Texas, on Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021

Central American and Mexican migrants have made up the bulk of arrivals in recent months, in keeping with trends in recent years.

The March figures show a 178 percent increase in the number of migrant families caught at the border compared with last month.

While Biden said last week that the “vast majority” of families are being sent back to Mexico under Title 42, US government data suggests that is not the case.

More than half of the 19,000 family members caught at the border in February were not expelled, according to public US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, with many released into the United States to pursue immigration court cases.

Reuters also obtained three daily US border enforcement reports in March that showed only 14-16 percent of family members were expelled on those days.

A CBP spokesman said official statistics would likely be released next week and declined to comment further.

US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokeswoman Sarah Peck said last week that given fluctuating migration flows, “one day or week of statistics doesn´t reflect the full picture”.

Peck said the department’s policy is still to expel families “and in situations where expulsion is not possible due to Mexico´s inability to receive the families, they are placed into removal proceedings”.

US border agents have encountered more repeat crossers in the past year compared with recent years.