Migrant Family Apprehensions in 2019 Up 469 Percent over Last Year

Border Patrol agents in Arizona continue to apprehend large groups of mostly Central American migrant families. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Tucson Sector)
File Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Tucson Sector

Apprehensions of migrant families who illegally cross the southwestern border from Mexico in Fiscal Year 2019 increased 469 percent over the same period last year. Despite the nearly 33 percent drop of migrant family apprehensions from May to June 2019, the increase in year-to-date apprehensions illustrates the enormity of the current crisis.

Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 390,000 migrant families who illegally crossed the border between ports of entry during the first nine months of this fiscal year. This is up from 68,541 during the same period in FY2018 — an increase of 469 percent, according to the June Southwest Border Migration Report released on Wednesday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The largest numbers of apprehensions continue to occur in the Rio Grande Valley Sector (165,950) and the El Paso Sector (117,612). The El Paso Sector experienced an astounding 1,759 percent increase in the apprehension of family units when compared to the same period one year ago. Agents in the El Paso Sector are processing more than 12,300 migrant families per month over the same period last year — an increase of approximately 412 more migrant family units each day.

Despite warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials for months, Congress failed to take action to provide the resources necessary to properly house and process the migrant families. This led to circumstances of overcrowding and increased processing times in Border Patrol facilities never designed to handle these volumes of migrant families. Congress also failed to take action to close the legal loopholes being exploited by transnational criminal organizations to lure migrant families on a life-endangering journey from Central America to the U.S.

In March, then CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan met with Border Patrol officials at ground zero in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. “On Monday (March 25), we saw the highest total of apprehensions and encounters in over a decade, with 4,000 migrants either apprehended or encountered at Ports of Entry in a single day. That was Monday.”

“Yesterday (March 26), we broke the record again with 4,117,” the commissioner stated. “We are now on pace for over 100 thousand apprehensions and encounters with migrants in March, with 90 percent of those, 90 thousand people, crossing the border illegally between Ports of Entry. March will be the highest month since 2008. The arriving flows are made up primarily of Central American families and unaccompanied children.”

From March 1 through June 30, Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 419,000 migrants who illegally crossed the border between ports of entry — 104,975 per month. Of the total apprehensions, 290,525 were family units and unaccompanied minors — an average of 72,631 per month or 2,421 per day.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in the 24 years that I’ve been doing this job,” U.S. Border Patrol Chief of Law Enforcement Operations Brian Hastings told reporters in a June conference call. “This is going back a period of 13 years where we haven’t seen apprehensions at this level.”

“As we’ve discussed in the past, these numbers are so dramatically different from anything we’ve faced in the pasts because of the demographics and composition of the folks being apprehended,” he continued.

As far back as October 2018, Border Patrol officials warned of the exploitation of legal loopholes by human smugglers to bring massive numbers of migrant families to the U.S.

In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News’ Brandon Darby, then Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla discussed the need for Congress to take action to close these loopholes.

“If you look at our activity in this sector, 40 percent of all of the apprehensions along the southwest border, 43 percent of the marijuana seized, the interesting part of the apprehensions that we have (approximately 128,500 year-to-date), 50 percent of the total are comprised of family units and unaccompanied children,” Padilla explained. “This demographic here, there is not a law enforcement solution to that. That’s going to require immigration reform closing the loopholes that exist in our immigration system.”

“The criminal element is always looking for loopholes in our and they have found it,” Padilla continued. “This population, this demographic is turning themselves in to us. So when we’re talking about solutions for border security, for this particular demographic, Congress is going to have to pass immigration reform at some point or another.”

In January, then DHS Spokeswoman Katie Waldman told Breitbart News, “This humanitarian crisis is driven by court rulings and poorly written laws that incentivize the smuggling of illegal immigrants under the age of 18. Funding the border wall, amending the TVPRA, and ending the Flores Settlement Agreement will put smugglers and traffickers out of business and protect vulnerable populations.”

“As a result, in just a few years, CBP has seen a sizeable increase in the number of UACs illegally entering the country,” DHS officials reported. “In 2010, Border Patrol apprehended 18,622 UACs. In 2018, Border Patrol apprehended 50,036 UACs—i.e. an increase of 169% in just 8 years.”

As of June 30, that number jumped again to 63,624 — with three months to go in the current fiscal year.

“This crisis is exacerbated by the increase in persons who are entering our custody suffering from severe respiratory illnesses or exhibit some other illness upon apprehension,” then DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a December 2018 statement.

On July 9, DHS Acting Secretary McAleenan continued the call to action by Congress.

“We are still in an ongoing border security and humanitarian crisis. U.S. Border Patrol made 688,375 apprehensions through the end of June, 140 percent higher than through this time last year,” McAleenan said in a written statement. “And our June apprehension numbers are still higher than last year’s, when we were already in a crisis. We are past the breaking point and in a full-blown emergency. This situation should not be acceptable to any of us. I am proud of the men and women of DHS who are doing everything they can to achieve our humanitarian mission. However, in order for us to solve this crisis and to create lasting change at the border, we must address the vulnerabilities in our legal framework.”

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.


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