Arrests Of Migrant Families At The Border Hits All-Time High

What was that again about the border emergency being a "made up" crisis?

US

According to federal data, more immigrant families - mostly from Central America - have been apprehended at the border since the beginning of the fiscal year than during any full-year period in recent memory.

Here's more from the Wall Street Journal:

From the start of the federal fiscal year in October through February, the Border Patrol arrested 136,150 people traveling as families for crossing the border illegally, according to data released Tuesday. The prior record for a 12-month period was 107,212, during the fiscal year that ended last September.

As WSJ explains, the acceleration in apprehensions is "the latest illustration of how many parents and children are seeking asylum in the U.S., primarily to escape violence, poverty and hunger in Central America." In other words, the rise in apprehensions isn't so much a factor of increased enforcement as it is a rise in the number of migrants heading toward the border.

The surge didn't happen all at once - rather, the number of migrants has been climbing since 2015, when fewer than 40,000 migrants were apprehended at the border.  Since US Customs and Border Protection began counting family units in 2013, there have been 2.6 million apprehensions along the US's southern border.

Trump

And if the number of migrant families trying to cross into the US continues to accelerate at the current pace, the total number could double or triple the prior year's record by the end of the 2019 fiscal year in September.

One government official said there pace shows no sign of slowing down, as violence in Central America remains an endemic issue.

Maureen Meyer, Mexico and migrant rights director for the Washington Office on Latin America, a human-rights advocacy group in Washington, said there is no sign that the pace is slowing.

"Nothing in the Northern Triangle countries has changed," Ms. Meyer said, referring to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Government officials said trying to estimate how many people will cross the border illegally in the coming months isn’t possible.

"Immigration patterns are determined by so many different things," said Ramiro Cordero, a Border Patrol spokesman in El Paso, Texas.

"They fluctuate so much that you can’t predict it."

Aside from families, the number of unaccompanied minors has also been climbing. Through February, about 26,900 have been caught at the border this fiscal year, compared with 50,036 for all of the prior fiscal year.

Meanwhile, the number of border arrests has fallen as the profile of migrants shifts away from single men seeking work toward families who surrender at the border after declaring asylum.

The overall number of arrests at the border was roughly 267,900 between October and February, compared with 136,209 over the same period a year earlier. That figure has in recent years been hovering near lows not seen since the 1970s, as fewer single adults come to the US in search of work, deterred by stepped-up enforcement and an improved Mexican economy.

The volume of families, most of whom voluntarily turn themselves in to law enforcement to seek asylum, has at times overwhelmed government facilities. Some families spend days in cinder-block cells with no beds or showers while waiting to be processed by immigration officials.

As WSJ notes, migrants are increasingly traveling in groups of more than 100 - or, as Trump would call them, "caravans."