Border Patrol Agents in August apprehended 12,744 migrant parents and children (family units) and 4,396 Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) at the Southwest border – increases of 38 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively, over July. The 90,563 family units apprehended so far this fiscal year ensures 2018 will exceed 2017’s 90,576. Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers manning ports of entry encountered 9,016 migrants in August, including 3,181 family units and 376 UACs.
Reporting on the August data, The Washington Times wrote, “Border officials acknowledged a ‘crisis’ as the number of families reached record levels, topping even the worst days of the Obama administration. It’s so bad that caravans of families like the one that drew headlines this spring have become commonplace. Authorities reported groups of 65, 65, 66, 96 and 163 illegal immigrants caught in just the last two weeks.”
The number of “family units” and UACs are surging because they are treated differently than individual migrants. Arrested individuals are usually detained until they can be deported, while family units and UACs must be released from custody after 20 days under a 2015 court order related to the “Flores settlement.” Most then disappear and ignore their chance at asylum.
CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told the Times his agency is hamstrung in light of court rulings and insufficient funding. He said the increases were “expected” after the Administration retracted its zero-tolerance policy, which involved prosecuting adult migrants for illegal entry. Larger numbers of migrants may be coming now after learning about the requirement to release migrant families. “Now with families and kids, there are no consequences to being apprehended,” McAleenan said.
In releasing the August numbers, DHS Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said they show “the migration flows are responding to gaps in our nation’s legal framework…Smugglers and traffickers understand our broken immigration laws better than most and know that if a family unit illegally enters the U.S. they are likely to be released into the interior…We know that the vast majority of family units who have been released, despite having no right to remain in any legal status, fail to ever depart or be removed. Through the third quarter of FY 2018, only 1.4 percent of family units have been repatriated to their home country from noncontiguous countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.”
Read more in The Washington Times.
Updated: Thu, Sep 13th 2018 @ 8:24pm EDT