Border apprehensions surpassed 100,000 for the second month in a row, indicating the intense immigration crisis taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A total of 109,144 illegal migrants were detained along the U.S. southern border in April, according to figures from the Department of Homeland Security. The number was an uptick from March, when Border Patrol agents apprehended or turned back 103,492 migrants who attempted to enter the U.S.
April’s apprehension numbers were released on the same day Border Patrol chief Carla Provost testified in Congress about the immigration crisis, calling the situation a threat to national security.
“Our apprehension numbers are off the charts compared to recent years,” Provost said Wednesday while speaking at the Senate subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration. “As of April 30, we apprehended 460,294 people on the southern border. In the last week, we had our highest single day, over 5,200 apprehensions and our single largest group of 421 illegal aliens.”
The Border Patrol chief said family units and unaccompanied alien children (UACs) makes up 64% of all southern border apprehensions, a stark increase from years prior. She noted family units and children present “significant challenges” to immigration resources because of the additional care they need and because U.S. immigration laws treat them differently than adults.
“For the first time in Border Patrol history, nearly half of the adults we apprehended in April brought children. They have received the message loud and clear: Bring a child, you will be released,” Provost told the committee.
Along with families and UACs, immigration agents have apprehended more than 3,500 people int the current fiscal year who hold gang affiliations and criminal history. Assaults on Border Patrol agents, it was noted during the hearing, have risen 20 percent.
Provost — who touts decades of experience with Border Patrol — told lawmakers simply building more holding facilities won’t fix the problem: “It’s like holding a bucket under a faucet. It doesn’t matter how many buckets you give me if we can’t stop the flow.”
Instead the Border Patrol leader said there must be consequences for crossing the border illegally, and she called for reforms to U.S. immigration laws.
Republicans on the Border Security subcommittee called on lawmakers to do more to address the crisis, with chairman John Cornyn, a Republican senator from Texas, outlining the need for reform during his opening remarks. Democrats, on the other hand, placed blame squarely on President Donald Trump. Ranking member Dick Durbin, a Democratic senator from Illinois, lampooned the administration for its high turnover among Homeland Security agencies.
DHS leaders, in the meantime, continue to beg the administration and Congress for more support and resources.
“My greatest concern is that we will no longer be able to deliver consequences and we will lose control of the border,” Provost said at the hearing.
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