A 20 year-old female migrant from Ecuador is seen climbing over the US-Mexico border wall fence as the human smuggler that brought her to the wall steadies the ladder below.
Massive smuggling industry drives record numbers at US border
08:40 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

More than 178,000 migrants were encountered at the US-Mexico border in April, a slight increase over March, for the highest one-month total in two decades, Customs and Border Protection officials announced Tuesday, though fewer unaccompanied children arrived.

According to Customs and Border Protection, 17,171 unaccompanied migrant children were encountered in April, down from nearly 19,000 in March.

The agency touted the declining number of children in Border Patrol custody, which was down to 455 on Tuesday, a more than 90% reduction from a peak in March of 5,767. On average, children now spend 28 hours in the custody of Customs and Border Protection.

While the number of arrests increased by 3% overall in April, the majority – more than 110,000 – were of single adults subject to quick expulsion to Mexico or their home countries under a Trump-era pandemic emergency rule.

“CBP continues to see a large influx of illegal migration along the Southwest Border,” Troy Miller, Customs and Border Protection senior official performing the duties of the commissioner, said in a statement. “In order to disrupt criminal organizations that have little regard for human life, CBP is leading the way alongside external law enforcement partners through Operational Sentinel. Day after day, CBP rescues migrants abandoned in harsh terrain, left for dead with no food or water. CBP is committed to enhancing the security of the U.S. border and helping save the lives of vulnerable migrants.”

According to the agency, agents made more than 873 rescues nationwide in April, continuing an upward trend. So far this fiscal year, more than 5,787 individuals have been rescued, compared with 5,255 during all of fiscal year 2020.