The number of migrants taken into custody along the southern U.S. border soared to nearly 1 million during the government’s fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data released Tuesday.
The number of unauthorized crossings from Mexico into the United States marked the highest volume in 12 years, amid a record influx of Central American families that peaked during the spring, overwhelming U.S. agents, border stations and immigration courtrooms.
Mark Morgan, the acting CBP commissioner, told reporters at a White House briefing that more than 52,000 migrants were taken into custody in September at U.S. ports of entry and between them, a decline of 18 percent from August.
Overall, U.S. border authorities made 977,509 arrests during fiscal 2019, up 88 percent from last year and the highest total since 2007. Morgan called it a “staggering” increase.
“These are numbers no immigration system in the world is designed to handle,” he said.
Arrests by U.S. border agents reached an all-time high of 1.6 million in 2000, but Department of Homeland Security officials insist that the migration wave they faced this year is unlike anything in the past.
A generation ago, most of the migrants crossing the border illegally were single adults from Mexico who could be quickly processed and deported.
This year, Central American parents with children made up the overwhelming majority of border crossers. Instead of seeking to evade capture, many sought out U.S. agents to surrender and stated a fear of being sent home, the first step in seeking asylum or another form of legal protection in the United States.
Court limits on the amount of time minors can be held in CBP custody mean that nearly any parent who arrived with a child could expect to be issued a notice to appear in court and to be released into the U.S. interior within a few days.
Morgan also stated that the Trump administration has completed 71 of the 450 miles of “beautiful” new border barriers CBP plans to complete by the end of 2020.
San Miguel Times Newsroom with information from The Washington Post