While Democrats insist that there’s “no crisis at the border,” left-leaning NPR reports that illegal border crossings just hit a 10-year high and migrants are literally arriving by the “busload.”
“Since last year, Border Patrol agents say, they have routinely encountered large groups of a hundred or more migrants at the border, many of them arriving by bus from Guatemala,” NPR reports. “According to immigration authorities, the passengers consist almost entirely of families and children who are looking for Border Patrol agents to turn themselves in to. Agents say they’ve encountered 70 large groups since last year.”
The numbers are staggering: Over the last five months, the number of migrants attempting to cross the border picked up by Border Patrol has increased over 90% over the same period last year. U.S. Customs and Border Protection say they’ve picked up a stunning 260,000 people since October and 66,000 in February alone.
The February total is “the highest total for a single month in almost a decade,” NPR reports. While NPR is careful to note the flood of migrants is still not near historic highs, the makeup of those being apprehended has shifted in a way that is particularly taxing for authorities: rather than single men trying to cross, as was the trend in the past, agents are increasingly picking up families and children.
“This is clearly both a border security and humanitarian crisis,” CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told reporters at a press briefing Tuesday.
“Every single day, smugglers and traffickers profit from human misery, exploiting people who are seeking a better life,” McAleenan explained. “Through human smuggling, transnational criminal organizations have established a new multi-billion dollar line of business. The situation is not safe for migrants; it challenges our ability to provide humanitarian care; it contributes to dangerous conditions on our border, and enables smuggling while enriching criminals. Regardless of anyone’s preferred policy outcome, the status quo is unacceptable. It presents an urgent and increasing crisis that needs to be addressed.”
Joint Task Force-West director Manuel Padilla also sounded the alarm. “The entire system right now is at full capacity. Actually, it’s overwhelmed,” he said.
Border Control Chief of Operations Brian Hastings laid out the particularly problematic shifts in who is being detained. “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,” said Hastings. “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 warned that “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.”
After the Democrats refused to fund all but $1.375 billion of his wall, President Trump declared a national emergency at the border in February with the plans to direct $8 billion in federal funds to building a security fence. The move has been met with lawsuits from several states.