Migrant children rest inside a pod at the Department of Homeland Security’s holding facility in Donna, Texas. Dario Lopez-Mills/Pool via REUTERS

U.S. authorities caught more than 171,000 migrants at the U.S. border with Mexico in March, according to preliminary data shared with Reuters.

The number is the highest monthly total in two decades and the latest sign of the mounting humanitarian challenge confronting President Joe Biden.

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

The Biden administration is struggling to find housing for unaccompanied children who have been backed up in crowded border stations and processing centers for days.

The shelter system that houses the children has been overwhelmed and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has scrambled in recent weeks to open emergency shelters, including sites at conventions centers in Dallas and San Diego.

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

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

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