U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have encountered 35 groups of over 100 illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley sector this year, including two groups that were apprehended on Tuesday, according to a CBP press release.
Rio Grande City Border Patrol (RGC) observed dozens of individuals, including family members and unaccompanied children, crossing the Rio Grande after receiving a report of a large group attempting to unlawfully cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Agents ultimately apprehended 145 illegal immigrants, including 121 family members and 24 unaccompanied illegal immigrant children.
RGC agents encountered the second group, totaling 131 people, near La Grulla, Texas. The second large group consisted of 99 family members, 28 illegal immigrant children traveling alone, and four single adults.
According to the release, CBP is processing the illegal immigrants accordingly, while containing the spread of COVID-19 continues to be a top priority for the federal agency.
“Even with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, human smugglers continue to try these brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger nor to the health of the citizens of our great nation,” the release stated. “The U.S. Border Patrol agents of the Rio Grande Valley Sector will continue to safeguard the nation and community against these criminal elements.”
Border Patrol Chief John R. Modlin tweeted a photo of a large group who he said surrendered themselves to CBP custody near San Miguel.
“[BorderPatrol] agents encountered over 130 illegal aliens that surrendered near San Miguel, [Arizona]. The group consisted of citizens from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua,” he tweeted. “Masks were provided and the group was transported to [Tucson] for processing.”
Large groups are becoming increasingly common, particularly in the Rio Grande Valley region. According to CBP, groups of 100 or more people were rare during the pandemic, dropping from 216 in FY2019 to just 10 in FY2020.
However, by the end of March 2021, the agency has already recorded 49 encounters with large groups in FY2021, involving more than 4,700 people.
The federal agency also encountered a staggering 18,890 unaccompanied illegal immigrant children in March, making it the highest number ever recorded in a single month, shattering previous single-month highs recorded in May 2019 with 11,475 and June 2014 with 10,620.
Prior to 2009 when the agency started publishing the numbers, Mexican adults were the largest demographic population illegally crossing the border.
“Although less than 11 percent of encounters in March were unaccompanied children, they make up the largest demographic group of individuals in custody at CBP facilities,” the agency’s press release stated.