More than 76,000 migrants tried to enter the United States illegally in February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan announced Tuesday.
“We are facing alarming trends,” he said at a news conference, noting a 50 percent increase in the number of families trying to cross the border over the month of January, according to The Washington Times.
More than 36,000 family members were among those arrested, he said.
Data released Tuesday by the Border Patrol showed a 434 percent increase in arrests in the El Paso Sector, which covers the state of New Mexico and two counties of Texas.
“The system is well beyond capacity, and remains at the breaking point,” McAleenan said, according to The New York Times.
Nearly 160,000 unaccompanied children and family members have been detained in the past five months, The Washington Times reported.
Tuesday’s report will likely only add fuel to the fire of a controversy that’s already hot in Washington.
We are facing an illegal immigration crisis at our southern border.
President @realDonaldTrump is on sound legal footing to declare an emergency to deal with the problem.
I expect the President’s position will prevail – in Congress and the courts.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 5, 2019
Congress and courts so corrupted they block Border Patrol and military from defending our borders: New record for migrant families caught over an entire year. It took just five months https://t.co/qWRKSFuFbl #MAGA @realDonaldTrump #AmericaFirst #Dobbs
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) March 6, 2019
Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson noted that the numbers announced Tuesday exceed the levels of 2014, when former President Barack Obama called immigration a crisis, The Washington Times reported.
“It was a humanitarian crisis in 2014, and it is a growing crisis today,” he said. “It is well past time to develop bipartisan solutions to secure our border and fix our horribly broken immigration system.”
McAleenan noted that smugglers have changed their strategies, and that 70 groups of at least 100 people have been detained since October, most in remote areas that require a vast amount of time on the part of agents and also have scant medical facilities for the migrants, The Washington Times reported. In the previous fiscal year, only 13 large groups arrived. Only two large groups arrived in the year before that.
Migrants have been dumped in the middle of the Arizona desert, far from any resources.
A White House Twitter post published Monday drew attention to the problem.
As President @realDonaldTrump said in January, “Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system. This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border.”
Now, their stories are coming to light.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 4, 2019
At Tuesday’s news conference, Brian Hastings, the chief of law enforcement operations at the Border Patrol, said there has been a massive change in the origin of migrants coming across the border, according to The Washington Times. He said that, over the years, 70 to 90 percent of those arrested have been Mexicans.
Now, 70 percent of the migrants detained are from the “Northern Triangle of Central America,” which Hasting said is made up of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, Fox News reported.
“The word of mouth and social media quickly gets back to those in Northern Triangle countries: If you bring a child, you’ll be successful,” Hastings said, according to The Washington Times.
McAleenan said the agency was opening a new El Paso processing center and is revising its medical guidelines to address the changing reality on the ground.
“While our enhanced medical efforts will assist in managing the increased flows, the fact is that these solutions are temporary and this solution is not sustainable,” he said, according to Fox.
Tuesday’s report comes out against a political context of a battle in Washington over funding President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.
Trump has declared a national emergency in an effort to free up funds for the project, but faces opposition from Congress and a likely court battle.
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