Border patrol agents in Arizona this week were overwhelmed after the largest caravan of migrants ever to cross into the United States tunneled beneath the border wall near San Luis, Arizona. According to ABC News, the migrants immediately turned themselves into Customs and Border Protection.
"Migrants can be seen marching toward Border Patrol agents by the hundreds," reports ABC News. "Smugglers dug a series of seven holes, only a few feet long beneath the steel border fence, with hundreds going beneath the wall and a smaller number clambering over it."
The migrant group included 376 people, 179 of which were reportedly children, 30 of whom were unaccompanied minors. While the number of illegal crossings has dropped significantly since its peak in 2001, Customs and Border Protection says the demographics of today's migrants have noticeably changed due to the overwhelming number of parents crossing with children.
"Parents with children now comprise over 80 percent of the total apprehensions of those crossing the 2,000-mile long border with Mexico," reports ABC News. "The vast majority of them, like the group near Yuma Monday, surrender immediately or seek out Border Patrol agents in order to begin the asylum process."
One particular case highlighted by ABC News was a man who paid coyotes $5,000 to lead him and his 12-year-old daughter up from Guatemala to the U.S. border, leaving behind his wife and two daughters. The case recalls that of the crying girl in the famous Time photo whose mother also took her from her family via coyotes.
As The Daily Wire reported at the time, the little girl's father accused the mother of taking their daughter against his will: "Not only were the little girl and her mother not separated from each other by immigration officials, according to the husband, his wife had taken their daughter against his will to America for better economic opportunities. In the process, she left three other children behind, their father forced to try to explain why their mom abandoned them. But it gets worse: He says she also paid $6,000 to a coyote, a human trafficker, to get them into the country."
CBP Yuma Border Sector Chief Anthony Porvaznik told ABC that the issue of families crossing the border is becoming a humanitarian problem that his unit is not equipped to handle. "That's our No. 1 challenge that we have here in the Yuma sector, is the humanitarian problem," he said. "As I mentioned, 87 percent of the apprehensions here are family units and unaccompanied alien children."
"In my 30 years with the Border Patrol, I have not been part of arresting a group of 376 people," Porvaznik said. "That's really unheard of."
The wall covering the area that the migrants penetrated is an older model that rises about 12 feet above the ground. Only three agents were patrolling the 26-mile long section. Two days after the big arrest, border patrol agents in New Mexico detained 247 people illegally crossing the border, many of whom were unaccompanied minors. Since October 1, 2018, the CBP says that 24 large groups of about 100 or more have illegally crossed the border near Lordsburg, New Mexico.
In his recent address to the American people, President Trump demanded Congress fund the wall while referring to the southern border as a place in "crisis."
"Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country," Trump said. "We are out of space to hold them and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country. America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation. But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans."