Nearly 300,000 unaccompanied minors and “family units” have been apprehended illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since fiscal year 2013, and recent data suggest the influx could continue at even higher levels.
During the first two months of FY 2016 — October and November — Border Patrol apprehended more than twice as many illegal immigrant children traveling without an adult and “family units” as the same period the year before, hinting that the migration flow may be again on the rise.
In addition to the 10,588 unaccompanied minors and 12,505 family units apprehended in November and October, 270,408 unaccompanied minors and family units — largely from Central America — have been apprehended illegally crossing the border since FY 2013.
According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in FY 2013 Border Patrol apprehended 38,759 unaccompanied minors and 14,855 family units. In FY 2014, 68,541 unaccompanied minors and 68,445 family units were apprehended and in FY 2015 there were 39,970 unaccompanied minors and 39,838 family units apprehended.
The renewed surge, during a period of traditionally lower migration, has officials already preparing. In a statement accompanying the new FY 2016 data, CBP pointed to Health and Human Services’ move to increase its capacity to house the incoming flow.
“The Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS increased the capacity of current providers from 7,900 to 8,400 beds in November and is preparing for temporary bed space in the event that additional beds may be needed,” CBP said in a statement. “ORR is continuously analyzing and monitoring bed capacity of unaccompanied children referred to HHS, as well as the information received from interagency partners, to inform any future decisions or actions.”
Democrats have argued the flow is due to “push” factors in the Central Americans’ countries of origin but Republicans have argued the President’s lax immigration enforcement efforts, “catch and release” policies, and amnesty programs have served to entice the illegal immigration.
“The ongoing surge at our southwest border is a manmade disaster created by the President’s policies,” House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) noted recently in a statement on the renewed surge. “
“In fact, a recent internal Border Patrol document obtained by the House Judiciary Committee shows that the Obama Administration’s lax immigration policies are the culprit for the ongoing surge at our borders. During recent interviews, the vast majority of the family units interviewed heard that if they came to the United States they would be able to stay. And most of those interviewed stated that it was the U.S. government’s policies that influenced their decision to come to the United States in the first place,” he added.