/Border at ‘Breaking Point’ as More than 76,000 Migrants Cross in a Month

Border at ‘Breaking Point’ as More than 76,000 Migrants Cross in a Month

The variety of migrant households crossing the southwest border has as soon as once more damaged data, with unauthorized entries practically doubling what they have been a yr in the past, suggesting that the Trump administration’s aggressive insurance policies haven’t discouraged new migration to the United States.

More than 76,000 migrants crossed the border with out authorization in February, an 11-year excessive and a sturdy signal that stepped-up prosecutions, new controls on asylum and harsher detention insurance policies haven’t reversed what stays a highly effective lure for 1000’s of households fleeing violence and poverty.

“The system is well beyond capacity, and remains at the breaking point,” Kevin Okay. McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, informed reporters in saying the brand new information on Tuesday.

The nation’s high border enforcement officer painted a image of processing facilities crammed to capability, border brokers struggling to fulfill medical wants and 1000’s of exhausted members of migrant households crammed into a detention system that was not constructed to deal with them — all whereas newcomers proceed to reach, generally by the busload, at the speed of two,200 a day.

The main problem is not one of uncontrolled masses scaling the fences, but a humanitarian challenge created as thousands of migrant families surge into remote areas where the administration has so far failed to devote sufficient resources to care for them, as is required under the law.

The latest numbers stung an administration that has over the past two years introduced a rash of aggressive policies intended to deter migrants from journeying to the United States, including separating families, limiting entries at official ports and requiring some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico through the duration of their immigration cases.

More than 50,000 adults are currently in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, the highest number ever.

Despite targeted successes in certain areas — about 2,000 migrants who traveled in a caravan from Central America last year appeared to have given up their cause as of last month after being discouraged by long delays in Tijuana — migrants seem only to have adjusted their routes rather than turn back. Indeed, they are traveling in even larger numbers than before.

[Read more about why more migrants are crossing the border.]

Arrests along the southern border have increased 97 percent since last year, the Border Patrol said, with a 434 percent increase in the El Paso sector, which covers the state of New Mexico and the two westernmost counties of Texas. Families, mainly from Central America, continue to arrive in ever-larger groups in remote parts of the southwest.

At least 70 such groups of 100 or more people have turned themselves in at Border Patrol stations that typically are staffed by only a handful of agents, often hours away from civilization. By comparison, only 13 such groups arrived in the last fiscal year, and two in the year before.

Understanding what is happening on the border is difficult because, while the numbers are currently higher than they have been in several years, they are nowhere near the historic levels of migration seen across the southwest border. Arrests for illegally crossing the border reached up to 1.64 million in 2000, under President Clinton. In the 2018 fiscal year, they reached 396,579. For the first five months of the current fiscal year, 268,044 have been apprehended.

The difference is that the nature of immigration has changed, and the demographics of those arriving now are proving more taxing for border officials to accommodate. Most of those entering the country in earlier years were single men, most of them from Mexico, coming to look for work. If they were arrested, they could quickly be deported.

Now, the majority of border crossers are not single men but families — fathers from Honduras with adolescent boys they are pulling away from gang violence, mothers with toddlers from Guatemala whose farms have been lost to drought. Most of these migrants may not have a good case to remain in the United States permanently, but because of legal constraints, it is not so easy to speedily deport them if they arrive with children and claim protection under the asylum laws.

Families with children can be held in detention for no longer than 20 days, under a much-debated court ruling, and since there are a limited number of detention centers certified to hold families, the practical effect is that most families are released into the country to await their hearings in immigration court. The courts are so backlogged that it could take months or years for cases to be decided. Some people never show up for court at all.

The throngs of new families are also affecting communities on the American side of the border. In El Paso, a volunteer network that temporarily houses the migrants after they are released from custody has had to expand to 20 facilities, compared with only three during the same period last year. Migrants are now being housed in churches, a converted nursing home and about 125 hotel rooms that are being paid for with donations.

“We had never seen these kinds of numbers,” said Ruben Garcia, the director of the organization, called Annunciation House. He said that during one week in February, immigration authorities had released more than 3,600 migrants to his organization, the highest number in any single week since the group’s founding in 1978.

For the most part, Mr. Garcia said that his staff and volunteer workers had been able to keep up with the surge, often making frantic calls to churches to request access to more space for housing families on short notice. But sometimes their best efforts were upended, he said, including on one day last week, when the authorities dropped off 150 more migrants than planned.

“We just didn’t have the space,” Mr. Garcia said.

Source link Nytimes.com

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