U.S. faces high­est rate of il­le­gal en­try since 2007

New surge com­prised of fam­i­lies, chil­dren

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion across the south­west bor­der is on pace for the worst year since 2007 — or the last time the coun­try be­gan a mas­sive wall-build­ing spree — ac­cord­ing to new Home­land Se­cu­rity num­bers.

Four months into the fis­cal year the Bor­der Pa­trol nabbed nearly 201,500 people, com­pared to about 109,500 at the same point in the pre­vi­ous year. If that 84 per­cent surge holds, it works out to 733,000 im­mi­grants cross­ing il­le­gally for fis­cal year 2019, which would be by far the high­est num­bers in more than a decade.

And the new surge is com­prised of mi­grant fam­i­lies and chil­dren, which are a much tougher pop­u­la­tion to com­bat, thanks to U.S. poli­cies im­posed by Con­gress and the courts that make it tougher to de­port them.

“Fam­ily units and un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren from Cen­tral Amer­ica are cross­ing the bor­der il­le­gally in greater num­bers and in larger groups than ever be­fore, strain­ing our law en­force­ment re­sources,” said Brian Hast­ings, U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol Chief of Op­er­a­tions. “These trends are very con­cern­ing and

demon­strate the re­al­ity of the on­go­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian and bor­der se­cu­rity cri­sis.”

The num­ber of fam­i­lies nabbed through the first four months of fis­cal year 2019 is up 290 per­cent com­pared to the same point in 2018, au­thor­i­ties said, with mini-caravans of hun­dreds of people now a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence.

Late last week in Ari­zona agents spot­ted a group of 325 people who’d jumped the bor­der in re­mote desert coun­try west of Lukeville.

That’s an area where there’s no bor­der wall, but rather low-slung metal poles and cross­bars that are meant to stop ve­hi­cles. They are easy for some­one on foot to step over or crawl un­der.

Of the 325, 150 were chil­dren — and 32 of them un­ac­com­pa­nied, mean­ing they were trav­el­ing with­out their par­ents.

It took agents sev­eral hours to do an ini­tial health screen, then pack the mi­grants into vans and take them to take them to a stag­ing area where they could be picked up by buses and taken to a Bor­der Pa­trol fa­cil­ity for pro­cess­ing.

Dur­ing the med­i­cal screen two chil­dren were deemed to need im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion: One 5-year-old had chicken pox, and a 12-year-old had a skin in­fec­tion.

Mem­bers of the mini-car­a­van said they’d been dropped off by buses and trucks that used Mex­i­can Fed­eral High­way 2, a high-speed road that runs a par­al­lel track just 50 yards south of the bor­der, to de­liver them. They massed, then crossed as a group at 8 a.m. on Thurs­day, and sat to wait for agents to find them.

A day later and sev­eral hun­dred miles to the east, agents ar­rested 290 people in a mini-car­a­van near An­te­lope Wells, New Mex­ico.

A bor­der of­fi­cial told re­porters large groups are of­ten used as dis­trac­tions by the car­tels, who con­trol both the hu­man and drug traf­fick­ing traf­fic across the bor­der, plan­ning where each type of cargo will cross.

The car­tels will send a large group over, know­ing it will ab­sorb an en­tire area’s con­tin­gent of agents, — then send a ship­ment of drugs across the bor­der in a nearby lo­ca­tion, con­fi­dent that the agents are oc­cu­pied feed­ing or per­form­ing med­i­cal checks on the mi­grants and won’t be able to re­spond.

“They’re us­ing these large groups to fa­cil­i­tate the cross­ing of nar­cotics be­cause they know they’ve tied up a large per­cent­age of our man­power,” the Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion of­fi­cial said, brief­ing re­porters Fri­day on the lat­est num­bers and tac­tics.

On any day, about 150 Bor­der Pa­trol agents are pulled out of the field and have to do “hospi­tal watch,” stay­ing with hun­dreds of mi­grants who were so sick when they ar­rived that they needed im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion, of­fi­cials said.

Chicken pox, measles, mumps and other in­fec­tious dis­eases are com­mon.

Through the first four months of fis­cal year 19, Home­land Se­cu­rity had seen 60 large groups — de­fined as at least 100 mi­grants. In 2018, the num­ber was just 13. And in 2017 it was just one.

Thurs­day’s group of 325 came in Fe­bru­ary, too late for the Jan­uary sta­tis­tics which of­fi­cials re­leased Fri­day.

Those stats showed the Bor­der Pa­trol caught 47,893 im­mi­grants try­ing to jump the bor­der, and CBP of­fi­cers en­coun­tered another 10,314 im­mi­grants who showed up at of­fi­cial bor­der cross­ings and en­tered with­out per­mis­sion.

Of those nabbed at the bor­der, 24,116 were came as fam­i­lies and 5,124 were un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren.

The to­tal num­ber and the num­ber of fam­ily mem­bers are both down a bit from De­cem­ber — but of­fi­cials said they saw a surge in the fi­nal weeks of Jan­uary, sug­gest­ing that the trend line is pick­ing up again.

Ar­rests are con­sid­ered a good ap­prox­i­ma­tion of the over­all flow of people. More ar­rests likely means more people are get­ting through.

At the turn of the cen­tury, the govern­ment was catch­ing more than 1.5 mil­lion im­mi­grants a year il­le­gally cross­ing the bor­der.

That re­mained at about 1 mil­lion a year through 2006, then dropped to about 850,000 in 2007, as the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion de­ployed troops and be­gan a mas­sive round of fence-build­ing. As those moves took hold, ap­pre­hen­sions dropped pre­cip­i­tously, to about 700,000 in 2008, 550,000 in 2009, and lower than 500,000 ev­ery year this decade.

The 733,000 the govern­ment is on track for this year would eas­ily top that decade av­er­age.

The por­ous na­ture of Amer­i­can pol­icy means those who are ar­rested are more likely to get a foothold in the U.S., de­spite their un­law­ful sta­tus.

Of the fam­i­lies and un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren nabbed in 2017, more than 98 per­cent of them were still in the U.S. as of late last year. Court rul­ings make it al­most im­pos­si­ble to de­tain them, and once they’re re­leased into com­mu­ni­ties they are dif­fi­cult to roust, Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials say.

STEPHEN DINAN/ THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Trucks rum­ble along the high­way in Mex­ico just feet from the U.S. bor­der in this 2017 photo, giv­ing mi­grants easy ac­cess by step­ping over or crawl­ing un­der the ve­hi­cle bar­rier. There is no wall at this lo­ca­tion.

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