El Paso Sector Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 1,800 migrants who illegally crossed the border Tuesday. More than half crossed into the El Paso Metropolitan Area.
Lordsburg Station agents patrolling near the remote Antelope Wells Port of Entry in the New Mexico boot heel region encountered a group of 230 shortly before 1 a.m. on April 16, according to El Paso Sector Border Patrol officials. The agents began the long task of medically screening, processing, and transporting the migrants to the station.
About five minutes after the apprehension of the first group, another set of agents encountered a group of 360 migrants just west of Mount Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, New Mexico, officials reported.
The agents working in the Antelope Wells Port of Entry area encountered yet another large group of 130 migrants at about 11:45 p.m. to close out their day.
In total, the El Paso Sector agents apprehended a total of more than 1,800 migrants on Tuesday — at least half entering in the El Paso Metropolitan area, officials stated.
During the first six months of Fiscal Year 2018, El Paso Sector agents apprehended less than 11,000 migrants who illegally crossed the border from Mexico. So far this fiscal year, that number has skyrocketed to more than 71,000.
“It is very clear that the cartels and their smugglers know the weaknesses in our laws,” Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said during a visit to the Texas border this week. “They know that family units and unaccompanied children will be released with no consequences for their illegal entry”
During a press briefing earlier this month, U.S. Border Patrol Chief Law Enforcement Operations Director Brian Hastings expressed concern about the cartel tactic of crossing large groups of migrants in remote areas, Breitbart News reported.
“The resources that we’re pulling away from national security have a negative effect on law enforcement mission,” the operations director explained. “Currently each day we’re pulling approximately 40 percent of our agents on the Southwest border, and diverting them specifically for the humanitarian need, that is to care for, transport and process family units and UACs.”
“Not only does this divert our resources, but as we’ve seen recently, smuggling organizations are utilizing these large groups as a diversion to enable the movement of smuggling of narcotics,” Hastings stated. “Approximately 60 large groups so far this year have been encountered in remote locations which causes us particular concern because they’re generally the furthest away from our processing centers, medical services, contract transportation, and even our stations.”
Hastings blamed the problem on immigration and asylum laws and court rulings.
Hastings said one solution to the current problem would be for Congress to fix the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2008.
“Specifically,” Hastings said in response to a question from The New York Times. “What we look at the biggest problem being for us appears to be TVPRA and [the Flores settlement agreement] and then just going through the system quicker in a more – adjudicating the cases quicker, if you will. We need some assistance with CIS and additional attorneys in order to expedite these cases and the credible fear claims quicker.”
Due to the massive numbers of apprehensions and laws restricting migrant detention and lack of funds and bed spaces allocated by Congress, Border Patrol officials have initiated a policy to release migrants directly into the community after medical screenings and criminal background investigations.
The overwhelming number of releases forced the mayor of Yuma, Arizona, to issue a “State of Emergency” declaration earlier this week. “Migrants being released into the community faster than they are departing, and shelters and the staff to run them are at max capacity,” a tweet on the City of Yuma Twitter page states quoting Mayor Douglas J. Nichols. “A state of emergency is declared.”
The mayor explained that when the shelters reach capacity, the City is forced to release the migrants onto the streets. “That means they are likely to be on the street and there would be a whole cascading effect of people walking around the city,” he explained.