(Editor’s note: Corrects number of FY 19 apprehensions.)
(CNSNews.com) – “Already this fiscal year, we have surpassed the total southern border apprehensions of every fiscal year since 2009,” CBP Chief Operating Officer John Sanders announced Wednesday at a press conference held by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to announce a bill the senator introduced to address the migrant crisis.
“So far this fiscal year, we’ve apprehended nearly 520,000 people on the southern border. In the past seven days, we have averaged over 4500 arrests per day. In the last two weeks, we’ve had our highest single day – over 5200 apprehensions and our single largest group of more than 420 illegal aliens. Already this fiscal year, we have surpassed the total southern border apprehensions of every fiscal year since 2009,” Sanders said.
According to statistics provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 460,294 people were apprehended along the southern border. That number includes unaccompanied children, family units, and single adults illegal immigrants apprehended from October 2018 through April 2019. The statistics were updated as of May 8.
CNSNews.com contacted CBP for clarification. CBP spokesman Carlos Diaz explained that the 520,000 number that Sanders cited is an update to the statistics currently on the CBP website.
The number of illegal immigrant family units and unaccompanied illegal alien children has “skyrocketed,” Sanders said. Furthermore, almost half of adult illegal immigrants brought children with them.
“The number of family units and unaccompanied children has skyrocketed to 64 percent of southern border apprehensions. So far this year, we have apprehended more than 285,000 family unit aliens and nearly 50,000 unaccompanied children. In the month of April alone, we had 42,000 children in CBP custody,” Sanders said.
“These are extremely vulnerable populations. They represent significant challenges, not only because of the additional care they require, but because our immigration system treats them differently than single adults,” he said.
“For the first time in Border Patrol history, nearly half the adults we apprehend in April brought children. They have clearly received the message loud and clear: bring a child. You will be released,” Sanders said.
Furthermore, CBP’s short-term holding facilities have exceeded capacity, he said.
“Though we have added new soft-sided facilities to El Paso, Rio Grande Valley, and soon to Yuma, Border Patrol sectors, our short-term holding facilities remain beyond capacity. We are trying to cope with this,” Sanders said.
“To address the volume, we’ve detailed agents from the northern and coastal borders, officers from CBP’s office of field operations across the country, and our brothers and sisters from other DHS components. However, even with the additional detailed staffing, our field commanders have had to pull agents away from the border to process reduced task force participation, postpone training, and close checkpoints,” he said.
Sanders called it a national security risk, adding that “it is unsustainable and cannot and should not continue.”
“Children should not have to sleep on the ground, huddled under Mylar blankets. This is the United States of America. We can and we must do better as a country, but let me clear about this. CBP cannot address this crisis simply by shifting more resources or building more facilities,” he said.
“In recent testimony before Congress, [CBP] Chief [Carla] Provost used the analogy that it is like holding a bucket under a faucet. If we can’t turn off the flow, it doesn’t matter how many more buckets you give me,” Sanders noted.
He called for “consequences” for those illegally crossing the border, adding that “we must stop directing our frustration and our ire at the brave men and women of CBP.”