According to an announcement made by Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 76,000 migrants attempted to enter into the United States illegally in the month of February.
During a press conference on Tuesday, McAleenan said that “We are facing alarming trends.” He noted that since January there has been a 50% increase in the number of families that have tried to cross over the southern border of the United States.
Border Patrol released data on Tuesday that shows there has been a 434% increase in the number of people arrested in the El Paso Sector, which covers two counties in Texas and the state of New Mexico. Among those arrested, 36,000 of those were family members. According to the New York Times, McAleenan said that “The system is well beyond capacity, and remains at the breaking point.”
Tuesday’s report from McAleenan will surely add fuel to the immigration fire that’s been burning for far too long. Especially, since he announced that in the past five months there have been close to 160,000 unaccompanied children and family members detained by the U.S. Border Patrol.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin has also pointed out that the numbers McAleenan announced on Tuesday far surpassed the levels of 2014, which was when former President Barack Obama announced that there was a serious immigration crisis. “It was a humanitarian crisis in 2014, and it is a growing crisis today. It is well past time to develop bipartisan solutions to secure our border and fix our horribly broken immigration system,” said Obama.
McAleenan also explained that smugglers have been changing their strategies to gain access to the United States. Since October, 70 groups of at least 100 people have been detained trying to cross the border. Most of them have been found in remote areas where agents have to spend incredible amounts of time locating them. Migrants have been dumped in the middle of the Arizona desert, far from any resources or medical facilities.
A tweet posted by the White House on Tuesday has drawn the public’s attention to the situation. The tweet read: “As President @realDonaldTrump said in January, ‘Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system. This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border.’ Now, their stories are coming to light.”
Brian Hastings, the chief of law enforcement operations at the border patrol, said in a news conference on Tuesday that there has been a huge change in where the migrants are coming from. He explained that throughout the years, 70 to 90% of those that have been arrested have come from Mexico.
Now, 70% of the migrants trying to cross the border have come from the “Northern Triangle of Central America,” which is made up of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, according to Hastings. “The word of mouth and social media quickly gets back to those in Northern Triangle countries: If you bring a child, you’ll be successful,” Hastings said.
McAleenan has said that the agency was opening up a new processing center in El Paso and they’re revising the medical guidelines to keep up with the ever-changing reality at the border. “While our enhanced medical efforts will assist in managing the increased flows, the fact is that these solutions are temporary and this solution is not sustainable,” said McAleenan.