U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended a Syrian native attempting to illegally enter the country from Mexico last week.
The 46-year-old Syrian man had snuck onto a train car before he was detected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities in Calexico, Calif., on Friday, according to a CBP statement.
The train crossed the border in the early morning hours when the port’s imaging technology noticed something unusual in one of the cars. Upon further investigation, officers found the Syrian man hidden inside the railcar’s small external compartment.
“This apprehension highlights the fact that none of our inspections are routine, especially when people purposely attempt to avoid the process,” Calexico Area Port Director David Salazar said in the statement. “CBP puts a lot of effort in identifying, vetting and prosecuting people who just don’t want to abide by the legal process of entering our country.”
Officers detained the man for an interview and collection of fingerprints. They later discovered he had no documents permitting his U.S. entry, and was instead a Syrian citizen.
Syrian man caught hiding in commercial railcar trying to sneak into US at Mexico border https://t.co/c1OZWaV4A5
— Robert Spencer (@jihadwatchRS) April 4, 2019
Officers then charged the man with illegal entry and placed an immigration hold on him to pursue deportation after criminal prosecution has concluded.
“CBP officers at the Calexico port of entry have apprehended 12 percent more illegal aliens in fiscal year 2019 compared to the same timeframe in fiscal year 2018 attempting to enter the country hidden in trains; many come from the Northern Triangle region of South America with varied criminal backgrounds such as burglary, battery, and drug charges,” the CBP statement said.
The Department of Homeland Security has estimated that approximately one million illegal immigrants will be apprehended by border patrol agents by the end of the year in what is a growing migration crisis in the U.S.
“In February, we saw a 30-percent jump over the previous month, with agents apprehending or encountering nearly 75,000 aliens,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said last month. “This is an 80-percent increase over the same time last year. And I can report today that CBP is forecasting the problem will get even worse this spring as the weather warms up.”
Nielsen and President Donald Trump have been in frequent communication as Trump considers closing the southern border to address the immigration crisis.
During a briefing call with the President, a DHS official said, “The system is on wire … We now face what we call a systemwide meltdown.”
DHS has already had to reallocate border patrol agents from ports of entry to working on asylum applications. The move has created significant delays at ports of entry and is expected to have a continued impact on those crossing through.