EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — On Tuesday U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced new numbers for apprehensions along the U.S. Mexico Border. The Acting CBP Commissioner was in El Paso to make the announcement.
For the fiscal year of 2019, the number of apprehensions nationwide was one million one hundred and forty-eight thousand. That’s an 88 percent increase from 2018.
CBP saw the highest number in families crossing the border in 2019 and say what has continued to push Central American families to the border is their knowledge of loopholes in the American immigration system.
“They were coached and mentored and given what to say by the cartels and the human smuggling organizations,” said Mark Morgan the Commissioner. “You grab a kid and that’s your U.S. Passport that will guarantee you entry into the United States,” Morgan claimed.
The number of family units was the highest ever in 2019. with 473 thousand families apprehended. There were also 76,000 unaccompanied children, a 26-percent increase from 2018.
However, now CBP says they have essentially ended the so-called “catch and release” along the Southwest border. They’ve also worked with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries in order to decrease the number of apprehensions since this summer.
“The message that’s going out now for the first time in a long time, is if you grab a kid it’s not an automatic passport into the United States,” said Morgan. “We are shutting those loopholes down, we are communicating that there are consequences to the actions.”
CBP says this has become more than a humanitarian crisis, now it’s a national security crisis. Morgan says transnational criminal organizations took advantage when 50-percent of Border Patrol resources were diverted to help with the large number of apprehensions.
“They’re using families and kids as a diversion to get the bad people and the drugs into our country and it’s happening every single day. And those drugs and those criminals their finding their way into every town and city in this country,” said Morgan.
According to CBP, 750 thousand pounds of hard narcotics were seized at the border in 2019. Their data also shows there were 16,000 criminal immigrants apprehended and almost 3,000 weapons. That number is only what was caught, Morgan said.
CBP says to have lasting results and to keep the apprehension number decreasing, they need the support of Congress.
“We’re going to do all we possibly can, we’re going to continue to be innovative, we’re going to continue to lean forward, were going to continue to do all we can to keep this community safe, to keep every community in this country safe, but we need congress to do their part,” said Robert E. Perez, a Deputy Commissioner with CBP.
CBP says congress has yet to pass any meaningful legislation to help fix both the humanitarian and national security crisis.