U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan had to correct Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday after Blumenthal falsely claimed that border crossings are at a historic low during a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing about human trafficking on the U.S.-Mexico border.
CNN reported on Tuesday that "more than 76,000 people were apprehended crossing illegally or without proper papers in February, the highest number of 'encounters' in any February in the last 12 years, according to CBP."
"Have you ever recommended that your superiors ask for an emergency declaration?" Blumenthal asked.
"I've recommended that we ask for more agents more border security barriers and more technology," McAleenan responded.
"That's been a continuing ask," Blumenthal replied. "Nothing about that ask constitutes saying we have a national emergency."
McAleenan responded: "Well, I would offer that I believe it's becoming more urgent as I offered in my opening statement in terms of the numbers of crossings, in terms of the illicit narcotics that are coming in increasingly between ports of entry."
"Well, but illicit narcotics are coming primarily still through the ports of entry, border crossings are still at a historic low compared to other times in our nation's history," Blumenthal claimed.
"No senator, they're not," McAleenan fired back. "We're on pace for over 700,000 crossings this year, that's closer to historic highs than historic lows."
During a press conference on Tuesday, Brian Hastings, chief of operations at Border Control headquarters said: "Historically the U.S. Border Patrol has arrested 70 to 90% Mexican nationals; we could apply a consequence to that demographic; we could return them quickly to Mexico. Today 70% of all those we are arresting are from the northern triangle: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras."
"October 2018 marked the first time in our history that family units exceeded single adult apprehensions, and in February of 2019 family units and unaccompanied children accounted for 65% of all Border Patrol apprehensions," Hastings continued. "So without a consequence, without being able to deliver a consequence to these individuals for illegally crossing our borders, the Border Patrol has no reason to expect that this trend will decrease; in fact, we believe it will increase. It’s well known at this time that adults with children will not be detained during the immigration proceedings for illegal entry; the word of mouth in social media quickly gets back to those in the northern triangle countries that if you bring a child, you will be successful. From April 2018 through February 2019, we’ve had almost 2,400 fraudulent claims of families. Of those fraudulent claims, some are folks who have claimed they are under 18 and they’re not; others have actually been fraudulent familial claims."
McAleenan added at Tuesday's press conference that “it should be very clear from these numbers that we are facing alarming trends in the rising volume of people illegally crossing our southwest border or arriving at our ports of entry without documents. This increased flow presents, currently at our highest level in over a decade, both a border security and humanitarian crisis.”