El Paso, Texas — Illegal crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border in May are down by more than 50% compared to the record highs reported in December, giving the Biden administration an unexpected reprieve during a time when migration has historically surged, according to internal government data obtained by CBS News.

During the first 21 days of May, U.S. Border Patrol agents recorded a daily average of approximately 3,700 apprehensions of migrants between official ports of entry. That represents a 54% decrease from the 8,000 daily average in December, when illegal entries soared to a quarter of a million, an all-time high.

May is also on track to see the third consecutive month-over-month drop in unlawful border crossings, the preliminary U.S. Department of Homeland Security statistics show. In March and April, illegal crossings along the southern border dropped to 137,000 and 129,000, respectively, according to public government data. If the trend continues, Border Patrol is on pace to record between 110,000 and 120,000 apprehensions in May.

Border Patrol apprehensions don’t include the number of migrants processed at official border crossings, where the Biden administration is admitting roughly 1,500 asylum-seekers on a daily basis.

While still elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels, the drop in migration this year has been unusual, bucking the trend in recent years of migrant crossings soaring in the spring. Senior U.S. officials have partially attributed the lower-than-expected levels of unlawful crossings to an aggressive crackdown on U.S.-bound migrants by the Mexican government.

Migrant crossings at U.S.-Mexico border plunge 54% from record highs, internal figures show – CBS News