McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The number of migrants being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities is at its highest level since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to new data.

Over 35,500 migrants were detained by ICE as of Sept. 10 — the first time the numbers have been that high since the pandemic began in March 2020, the agency reports

Detentions by U.S. Customs and Border Protection also are rising, with 25,362 detained in September, up nearly 10% from 23,119 in August, according to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of Syracuse University, which tracks U.S. immigration cases and information.

New data from Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse of Syracuse University shows the highest levels of migrants in detention since the COVID-19 pandemic began. (TRAC Graphic)

Migrant advocates say President Joe Biden needs to lower detention numbers.

“The number of people in detention is at the highest level under the Biden administration at over 35K – more than double what it was when he first took office. Despite Biden’s stance against private prisons roughly 90 percent of detention capacity is operated by private prison corporations. This is unacceptable. Simply put, people navigating their immigration case should be able to do so with their families and in community – not behind bars in immigration,” Silky Shah, executive director of Detention Watch Network, said in a statement.

The largest number of migrants are being held at the South Texas ICE Processing Center in Pearsall, Texas, which holds an average of 1,274 per day, TRAC reports.

Texas led the nation with migrant detentions in Fiscal Year 2023, which ends on Saturday, according to TRAC data.

Nearly 200,000 migrants currently are being monitored under a form of Alternatives to Detention, including 175,000 monitored through the SmartLINK app, and over 10,000 tracked via GPS, according to new data.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at