The number of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the southern border during the first two months of this fiscal year is more than twice the number apprehended last year during the same timeframe, according to data reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In October and November of this year, 10,588 unaccompanied minors, largely from Central America, were apprehended illegally entering the U.S., a 106 percent increase over the same timeframe last year. In some border sectors, the influx has increased over 500 percent.
Last year in that timeframe Border Patrol apprehended 5,129 unaccompanied minors.
In order to keep up with the flow, last week the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would be increasing its capacity to house the unaccompanied minors by up to 6,400 beds, according to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI).
The new beds would be added on top HHS’s previous increase in November from 7,900 to 8,400 beds.
Not only have the number of unaccompanied children more than doubled, but so too have the number of family units — from 4,577 in October and November of last year to 12,505 during those same two months this year.
The crisis of unaccompanied minors and family units from Central America flooding across the southern border has been ongoing for several years, with tens of thousands of Central Americans coming to the U.S. expecting to be allowed to stay.
According to Johnson, the renewed influx of unaccompanied minors at the border is not a surprise given the Obama administration’s “unconscionable” policies that have created an “incentive” for the northward migration.
“It is unconscionable that our policy should give desperate parents an incentive to put their children through the incredible dangers of a trip to the U.S. border for an illegal crossing. During a recent meeting, the president of Honduras asked our visiting congressional delegation to end the ambiguity in our laws that creates this incentive,” Johnson said in a statement Friday.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) last week expressed concern that this year might be worse than 2014, when 68,541 unaccompanied minors were apprehended entering the U.S. at the southern border. Cuellar has called for more funding to aid Central America, increased transparency in immigration detention facilities, and more immigration judges.
“To that end, and in my capacity as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I’ve requested an increase in funding, over Fiscal Year 2015 levels, to assist Central America in their fight against criminal gangs, drug traffickers and organized crime, and to increase their own border security and combat human smuggling and trafficking,” he said.
Customs and Border Protection has said it is continuing to work to keep the border secure.
“We continue to aggressively work to secure our borders, address underlying causes and deter future increases in unauthorized migration, while ensuring that those with legitimate humanitarian claims are afforded the opportunity to seek protection,” CBP said in a statement accompanying the new data. “We also continue to look at broader regional efforts to address the flow of children and family units from Central America into the United States.”