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  4. CBP Announces May 2021 Operational Update

CBP Announces May 2021 Operational Update

Release Date
Wed, 06/09/2021

*Updated 6/29/2021 based on an internal review of CBP's forced labor enforcement data that found the total value of goods targeted under Withhold Release Orders (WRO) to be lower than initially estimated and the number and value of detentions  under WROs to be higher than initially estimated.

Image of the CBP seal. A blue eagle with wings spread gazes to the left. The eagle holds an American flag-themed shield in front of its torso. Under the flag, a banner bears the CBP core values: vigilance, service, integrity. In the background, blue, green, and yellow lines traverse a globe centered on the north Atlantic. The globe and eagle are surrounded by red and grey circles, between which are written "U.S. Customs and Border Protection - Department of Homeland Security."WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today released operational statistics for May 2021, which can be viewed online.

CBP Enforcement Numbers

In May 2021, CBP encountered 180,034 persons attempting entry along the Southwest Border. This total represented a 1 percent increase over April 2021.

Single adults continue to make up the majority of these encounters. In May 2021, CBP expelled 112,302 individuals under Title 42. CBP continues to expel single adults and family units that are encountered pursuant to CDC guidance under Title 42 authority. 62 percent of all May encounters resulted in a Title 42 expulsion.

Encounters along the Southwest Border of unaccompanied children and single minors from Northern Triangle countries dropped again this month by 23 percent, with 10,765 encounters in May 2021 compared with 13,940 in April 2021. Encounters of family units from Northern Triangle countries also dropped again, decreasing by 31 percent to 22,630 in May 2021, down from 32,674 in April. 

The large number of expulsions during the pandemic has contributed to a larger-than-usual number of noncitizens making multiple border crossing attempts, and means total encounters somewhat overstate the number of unique individuals arriving at the border. Thirty-eight percent of encounters in May 2021 were individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, compared to an average one-year re-encounter rate of 15 percent for Fiscal Years 2014-2019.

CBP enforcement numbers for May 2021.

Life-saving Rescues

Smuggling organizations are abandoning migrants in remote and dangerous areas, leading to a dramatic rise in the number of rescues CBP performs. In May 2021, CBP conducted 7,084 rescues nationwide, and CBP has rescued 35 percent more individuals in Fiscal Year 2021 than all of Fiscal Year 2020.

Migrant Protection Protocols

On January 20, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security suspended new enrollments into the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, which returned certain noncitizens to Mexico pending removal proceedings before an immigration judge under Section 240 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. Shortly thereafter, President Biden issued EO 14010 directing the secretary to "consider a phased strategy for the safe and orderly entry into the United States, consistent with public health and safety and capacity constraints, of those individuals who have been subjected to MPP for further processing of their asylum claims," and to review MPP and determine whether to modify or terminate the program. On February 19, 2021, CBP began processing into the United States those individuals previously enrolled in MPP who had pending immigration court proceedings. Over the last several months, DHS has worked with interagency partners to establish such a process and has permitted more than 11,000 individuals enrolled in MPP with cases pending before EOIR to enter the country. And on June 1, 2021, after completing the review, Secretary Mayorkas formally terminated the program.

Unaccompanied Children in Custody

The average daily number of children in CBP custody has decreased significantly to 640 in May 2021 from 2,895 in April 2021. In April, unaccompanied children spent an average of 92 hours in CBP custody. In May, unaccompanied children held in CBP facilities spent an average of 26 hours.

This sustained progress is a result of the steps DHS took to reengineer processes and mobilize personnel Department-wide, including designating FEMA to lead a whole of government effort to assist the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with establishing temporary facilities that provide a safe, sanitary, and secure environment for unaccompanied children as well as detailing to HHS more than 350 officers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to more efficiently and effectively verify claimed sponsors to support the reunification process.

Drug Seizures

CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine Operations agents continue to interdict the flow of illicit narcotics across the border. Nationwide, drug seizures were up 18 percent in May from April 2021. Cocaine interceptions decreased 18 percent. Seizures of methamphetamine increased 53 percent. Seizures of heroin increased 7 percent and seizures of fentanyl increased 9 percent. CBP continues to see a surge in fentanyl seizures. Seizures in Fiscal Year 2021 through May are 56 percent higher than all of Fiscal Year 2020.

Additional CBP drug seizure statistics.

CBP COVID-19 Response

The safety of our workforce, our communities, and individuals in our care is a top priority.  CBP personnel put themselves and their families at risk with every encounter at the border. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 8,800 CBP employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and 32 have passed away. CBP is continuing to explore possible adjustments to workforce posture and health protocols based on widespread vaccine access and easing public health metrics.  


CBP continues to aggressively investigate and prevent goods made by forced labor from entering the U.S. commerce. Forced labor is a form of modern-day slavery that violates international labor standards and universal human rights. Foreign companies use forced labor to produce goods at lower costs, which hurts law-abiding businesses in the United States. Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2021, CBP has:

  • Published two forced labor findings that instruct U.S. ports of entry to immediately seize certain disposable glove and stevia imports.
  • Issued five Withhold Release Orders that instruct U.S. ports of entry to detain certain cotton products, tomato products, palm oil, tuna, and other seafood produced using forced labor.
  • Targeted more than 1,200 shipments arriving in the United States that contained more than $400 million of goods suspected to be made by forced labor.
  • Detained almost $275 million of goods suspected of being made by forced labor in the 674 shipments that applied for entry and deterred the remainder of the targeted shipments from entering the United States.

The United States will not tolerate forced labor in our supply chains and will always stand up against cruel and inhumane labor practices.

Last Modified: Oct 20, 2023