World Media

US Border Arrests of Families Hits Another Record Amid Mexico Tariff Threat

Presidio Border Patrol Station agents apprehend a group of Central American migrant families in the Big Bend Sector

Border Patrol has apprehended just shy of 600,000 illegal immigrants in the 2019 fiscal year, majority families and unaccompanied minors from Central America. Another 11,507 were children travelling alone, and 36,838 were single adults.

"Our nation is experiencing an unprecedented border security and humanitarian crisis on the southwest border, both at and between our ports of entry", Randy Howe, the executive director for operations, Office of Field Operations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), told reporters on a call.

A group of illegal aliens is processed by Border Patrol agents after crossing from Mexico into Yuma, Ariz., on April 13, 2019.

U.S. President Donald Trump regularly chides Mexico for failing to stop migrants from transiting through the country to the U.S. border.

Last week, a group of over 1,000 migrants surrendered to Border Patrol agents after crossing the border illegally.

More than 63% of those apprehended in May were children and people traveling as families. If trends continue over the next few months, apprehensions for the 2019 fiscal year, ending September 30, will be the highest in 13 years, said Brian Hastings, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. A further 11,391 people were turned away in May, registering a light uptick from the previous month. The pursuit of such claims can take years because of ballooning court backlogs and most fail to appear in court.

Asked whether there was data to support the commissioner's assertion that this was a "pull factor" in attracting Central Americans, a CBP spokesperson said it was based on "interviews of individuals in our custody, smugglers advertising in the Northern Triangle, and word of mouth and social media messaging from individuals who are released". "We began doing that because our facilities were over capacity". As the volume of entries increases, US immigration authorities find themselves scrambling for solutions for how to accommodate the tens of thousands of migrants who are released from detention while their asylum applications are being processed. A US government watchdog reported "dangerous" overcrowding at one border patrol facility in El Paso, Texas.

FILE - A shackled migrant woman in federal custody arrives for an immigration hearing at the USA federal courthouse in McAllen, Texas, May 20, 2019. Without help from Congress, Sanders said CBP would exhaust its budget well before the end of the fiscal year. On May 30 in Del Rio, Texas, 117 migrants from Central and South Africa, were apprehended.

In addition to seeing the demographic of migrants encountered at the border shift dramatically from mostly single adults to primarily families and unaccompanied children, immigration authorities said they are also seeing a marked increase in the number of large groups apprehended along the border.