AP NEWS

Border apprehensions slightly up in April

May 9, 2019

McALLEN — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they arrested more than 100,000 people surrendering at the U.S.-Mexico border for the second straight month, according to the agency’s website.

In April U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 109,144 people at the U.S.-Mexico border, 10,167 of which were categorized as inadmissible at a port of entry. This is a more than 5% increase from March, when CBP reported a total of 103,492 people apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, 10,888 of which were inadmissible.

Without taking into account the inadmissible, Border Patrol agents apprehended 92,607 and 98,977 in March and April, respectively, according to the agency’s website.

The increase in apprehensions is primarily made up of families and unaccompanied minors who are seeking asylum from Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Through April in fiscal year 2018, Border Patrol agents apprehended 49,621 families compared to the year-to-date number of 248,058, an increase of more than 400%, according to the agency’s website.

Border Patrol agents apprehended a total of 44,795 unaccompanied minors through April of this year, an increase of more than 70% year over year.

CBP said it has continued to see an increase in large groups of 100 or more people surrendering at once, with more than 100 instances recorded this year so far, This is an increase from the 13 large groups encountered last fiscal year, and the two groups of 100 or more people in fiscal year 2017, according to the CBP website.

Last Thursday, Border Patrol agents reported encountering a group of nearly 225 people surrendering to them near La Joya, according to a news release.

The April apprehensions report comes as President Trump works to make the asylum process more stringent, with asylum officers being directed to follow new guidelines that are more “confrontational” in nature during the interview process with migrants seeking asylum.

In addition to that directive, an appeals court ruled Tuesday that the administration can temporarily continue to require non-Mexican asylum seekers to wait in Mexico pending resolution of their asylum case while the court considers additional issues in the case.

The decision from the appeals court on the “Return/Remain in Mexico” policy, a DHS-led initiative which sought to return immigrants to Mexico to wait during their respective U.S. immigration proceedings, comes after it was blocked by a lower court in April.

The increase in families and unaccompanied minors arriving at the southwest border led to the opening last week to two additional holding shelters — one in El Paso and one in Donna, which can hold up to 500 people, and serves as an extension to the central processing center in McAllen.

CBP and Border Patrol continue to advocate for an overhaul of immigration policy as a means to deter the seemingly endless flow of asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border turning themselves in.

Though the number of asylum seekers being arrested at the border continues to increase, historically, apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border are still at all-time lows.

In fiscal year 2018, Border Patrol recorded a total of 396,579 apprehensions between ports of entry on the southwest border, a slight increase over 2017’s fiscal year apprehensions of 303,916.

The next closest year in terms of total apprehensions came more than 10 years ago, in fiscal year 2007 when Border Patrol agents apprehended a total of 876,704 immigrants, according to the agency’s website.

lzazueta@themonitor.com