Border Patrol agents in October apprehended more than 23,000 family members — a monthly record — along the US–Mexico border, according to statistics released Friday by US Customs and Border Protection Friday.
The numbers were released just hours after the Trump administration announced new policies intended to bar individuals who cross the US–Mexico border without authorization from seeking asylum, and make clear the growing role families seeking haven from violence and crime play in US immigration.
For comparison, fewer than 800 family members were apprehended in October 2012, when the statistic was first tracked, and just 4,800 were detained last October. Slightly more than 16,600 family members were seized in September, the statistics show.
Border agents caught nearly 51,000 people at the border in October, according to the newly released figures, the highest number of the Trump administration and a return to apprehension numbers last seen during the closing months of the Obama presidency.
Former Department of Homeland Security officials said the numbers indicate that the policies implemented by the administration in recent months have not worked to discourage immigrants from fleeing their homelands for the United States.
“It’s clear evidence these tactics Trump has implemented have failed,” said John Sandweg, former head of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the Obama administration. “It’s time they need to start looking at resourcing immigration courts to handle cases, do more in the Northern Triangle countries (Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala) to limit violence that pushes these families here, and do more to combat smuggling organizations.”
The vast majority of those that enter the country without authorization, according to the Trump administration, are from the Northern Triangle countries, where there are high rates of violence.
“There is no one easy solution to this problem,” Sandweg said. “This is a humanitarian crisis, it’s mass poverty.”
A proclamation President Trump signed Friday said that the rising number of family units detained at the border poses a series of problems, including not having enough detention centers to house families together. Therefore, all family units who do have a “credible fear” of persecution are released into the United States as they await for their asylum case to be heard.