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The troops at the border are part of the 1,500 who were sent as foreign nationals surged across the border in the lead-up to the expiration of Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allowed Border Protection to turn back illegal immigrants over COVID concerns.
“On August 24, 2023, the Secretary of Defense approved an extension of up to 400 personnel providing support to Customs and Border Protection on the Southwest border through September 30, 2023,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Devin T. Robinson told NBC.
The Pentagon did send away 1,100 troops who had also been at the border since May, even as crossings have continued to remain elevated. According to recent numbers, about 177,000 people were arrested in August 2023 for illegally entering the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security thanked the Department of Defense for extending the stay of some of the troops.
“DHS appreciates the extension of 400 DOD personnel who are providing support at the southwest border. The support personnel are critical so that CBP agents and officers can get out in the field to securely, safely, and humanely manage the southwest border,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement.
According to new numbers, 91,000 illegal immigrants crossed in a family group, the highest ever. The number is 7,000 more than the previous record, which was set in May 2019. The number of children crossing per day jumped from 270 in July to 377 in August, according to the New York Times.
On Friday, the HHS Office of Refuge Resettlement (ORR) said that it had over 10,000 children in custody.
“While ORR has worked to build up its licensed bed capacity, additional capacity is urgently needed to manage the increasing numbers of unaccompanied children referrals from DHS. In preparation for the potential need for additional beds and to provide services and care that align with child welfare best practices, HHS opened several Influx Care Facilities (I CFs), which offer the full range of services offered in ORR’s network of care,” the office said in a fact sheet.
The recent figures come as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed that the Biden administration is “stopping the flow at the border.” Jean-Pierre also claimed that Biden has “done more” to secure the border “than anybody else.”
Illegal border crossings have surged under the Biden administration, with an estimated 1.5 million illegal immigrant gotaways being recorded since Biden took office in 2021. There were 415,000 total reported gotaways for 2018, 2019, and 2020 under the Trump administration. The number of illegal border crossings jumped to a record high in fiscal year 2022.
Spencer Lindquist contributed to this report.