Bor­der ar­rests surge

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NICK MIROFF

The num­ber of mi­grants seized in Oc­to­ber soared to the high­est to­tals of the Trump pres­i­dency. The in­crease was again driven by par­ents ar­riv­ing with chil­dren.

The num­ber of mi­grants taken into cus­tody along the Mex­i­can bor­der soared to the high­est to­tals of the Trump pres­i­dency in Oc­to­ber, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased late Fri­day by U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion.

The jump in il­le­gal cross­ings con­tin­ued to be driven by a record num­bers of par­ents ar­riv­ing with chil­dren, a trend that has ac­cel­er­ated dra­mat­i­cally since the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion halted its “zero tol­er­ance” fam­ily-sep­a­ra­tion pol­icy in June.

Bor­der Pa­trol agents last month ar­rested 23,121 mi­grant fam­ily mem­bers, a 39 per­cent jump from Septem­ber and the high­est one-month to­tal ever recorded. In to­tal, CBP ar­rested or deemed in­ad­mis­si­ble 60,745 peo­ple along the Mex­ico bor­der in Oc­to­ber, far more than any other month since Trump took of­fice.

Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials did not com­ment Fri­day on the Oc­to­ber fig­ures. Trump in the past has viewed the num­bers as a gauge for the per­for­mance of his bor­der se­cu­rity of­fi­cials and es­pe­cially Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Kirst­jen Nielsen, who is not ex­pected to last much longer in her role.

With Trump ar­riv­ing in France on Fri­day, it was not clear whether the pres­i­dent had seen the Oc­to­ber bor­der fig­ures show­ing yet an­other surge in il­le­gal cross­ings.

DHS of­fi­cials blame the surge on what they say is a flood of friv­o­lous asy­lum claims by Cen­tral Amer­i­cans at­tempt­ing to avoid de­por­ta­tion by gam­ing the U.S. im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem. Trump on Fri­day is­sued a pres­i­den­tial procla­ma­tion that im­poses new re­stric­tions on asy­lum pro­tec­tions for mi­grants who cross the bor­der il­le­gally, in­vok­ing the same ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity cited un­der his travel ban last year.

A coali­tion of civil rights groups led by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union filed a law­suit Fri­day in San Fran­cisco seek­ing an in­junc­tion to block the mea­sures, call­ing them a vi­o­la­tion of fed­eral pro­ce­dure and a vi­o­la­tion of im­mi­gra­tion laws.

Oc­to­ber’s surge in bor­der ar­rests was driven, once more, by large num­bers of Gu­atemalan and Hon­duran mi­grants, many of whom are flee­ing ram­pant vi­o­lence and poverty.

An es­ti­mated 7,000 to 10,000 Cen­tral Amer­i­cans are trav­el­ing to­ward the U.S. bor­der in loose car­a­vans of un­prece­dented size, and the Oc­to­ber ar­rest to­tals do not in­clude mem­bers of those groups.

They will ar­rive at a bor­der where more than 7,000 U.S. sol­diers have been or­dered to de­ploy in an at­tempt to de­ter more il­le­gal cross­ings. But record pro­por­tions of those cross­ing il­le­gally to­day are women with chil­dren who sim­ply turn them­selves in to U.S. bor­der agents and state a fear of re­turn.

U.S. courts limit the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to hold chil­dren in im­mi­gra­tion jails, and with fam­ily-ap­pro­pri­ate de­ten­tion ca­pac­ity al­ready maxed out, the gov­ern­ment has been pro­cess­ing and re­leas­ing large num­bers of mi­grants in Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia.

The last month on record that CBP reg­is­tered more than 60,000 ar­rests and “in­ad­mis­si­ble” bor­der crossers was No­vem­ber 2016, the month Trump was elected.

Bor­der ap­pre­hen­sions fell dur­ing the first year of Trump’s pres­i­dency to their low­est level since 1971, and when the num­bers re­bounded this spring the pres­i­dent di­rected much of his ire at Nielsen. His ad­min­is­tra­tion at­tempted to halt the in­creases by sep­a­rat­ing par­ents from their chil­dren, but Trump aban­doned the pol­icy af­ter six weeks amid wide­spread out­rage.

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