RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas - As the Biden administration continues to grapple with an influx of migrants at the southern border, the latest numbers show a record-breaking amount of encounters with unaccompanied minors.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says agents encountered more than 172,000 migrants in March. That's the highest number recorded in nearly two decades.
The number includes about 19,000 children traveling alone, a 100% increase from the previous month and the biggest monthly number ever recorded.
"We've seen the number of unaccompanied children start going up since last year when hurricanes hit Central America, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused extended lockdown, and when more people felt that the only options they had to put their child in a place where they weren't going to starve or struggle or die as a result of violence was to send their children to the United States," said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel of the American Immigration Council.
Despite the record-breaking numbers, the White House insists the migrant surge is a cyclical event, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and damage from hurricanes.
President Biden said, "The truth of the matter is: Nothing has changed... There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March. That happens every year."
The administration is taking steps to ease overcrowding at the border, pushing billions in additional funding for the northern triangle: the countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is reportedly making his third visit to the border on Thursday.