Customs and Border Protection (CPB) apprehended nearly 1,000 migrants in “three large groups” crossing into Texas and Arizona, the agency said Tuesday.
“Before 5 a.m. MT this morning, Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 980 individuals that illegally crossed the border in 3 large groups,” the agency tweeted along with a video. “The groups, mostly comprised of family units from Central America, were apprehended in the El Paso and Tucson sectors.”
Before 5 a.m. MT this morning, #BorderPatrol agents apprehended more than 980 individuals that illegally crossed the border in 3 large groups. The groups, mostly comprised of family units from Central America, were apprehended in the El Paso and Tucson Sectors. pic.twitter.com/4M3hXMXn9t
— CBP (@CBP) April 16, 2019
One of those groups contained 360 people, CBP said in a statement. They were detained after Border Patrol camera operators saw a “mass of people after multiple buses arrived south of the U.S.-Mexico border approximately 14 miles west of the Port of Lukeville,” the agency said. “Border Patrol agents watched as the group exited the buses and walked under the vehicle barrier that sits on the international boundary.”
CBP called the increase in southwestern border crossings “alarming,” especially in light of the predominance of families and unaccompanied children. Many of them are seeking asylum, noted the Associated Press.
“This stark and increasing shift to more vulnerable populations, combined with the overwhelming numbers, and inadequate capacity to detain families and children, has created a humanitarian and border security crisis,” CBP said. “The increase in apprehensions is taxing the entire immigration system, especially the capabilities of ICE and CBP, creating an untenable situation for both CBP personnel and migrants.”
The number, while fairly large, reflects a recent surge — though numbers are still at a historic low, the Los Angeles Times reported last month. In February, 66,450 migrants were arrested along the southwestern border, or more than 2,300 daily.
It was higher than at any time over the past 10 years, the Los Angeles Times said, but the 396,579 pulled in during fiscal 2018 was low compared to the more than one million apprehended annually between the 1980s and the 2000s, the newspaper noted.
The overwhelm also reflects understaffing, as Newsweek reported in January. CBP is under a congressional mandate to have a minimum of 21,370 agents, but in 2017 there were only 19,437, Newsweek said.
On the immigrants’ side, a “convergence of factors” has led to the current surge in migration, wrote Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce for the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank devoted to immigration issues.
Caravans have “threatened the business model of smuggling networks” by offering safer travel, leading to more aggressive tactics by smuggling organizations, Meissner and Pierce wrote.
The Trump administration’s constant threat of stricter policies have led people to rush here before it gets harder. Increasing volatility in Guatemala and Honduras — which account for 85% of the current flow of migrants — has also prompted more people to make the trip, they said.
“The recent flows are not sustainable, and the breakdowns in the immigration enforcement system are cascading rapidly,” the two wrote, echoing CBP’s analysis. “Overwhelmed government officials are releasing migrants into the United States in large numbers, without full processing and vetting. They are dropping off migrants at churches and bus stations in border communities with little or no notice, overwhelming local actors and already inadequate facilities and support resources.”
© 2019 New York Daily News
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