(CNSNews.com) – Customs and Border Patrol apprehended over 103,000 illegal immigrants crossing the border in March – the highest number of apprehensions in a month in over a decade, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told Congress Tuesday.
“In March alone, CBP apprehended and encountered over 103,000 migrants crossing without legal status – the most in one month for over a decade,” he said at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on his department’s proposed 2020 budget request.
“On April 16th, we had almost 5,000 people cross the border without authorization in a single day. Almost 1,000 of them in just three large groups. Remarkably, these three large groups in one 24-hour period exceeded the total number of large groups apprehended in all of fiscal year 2017,” McAleenan said in his opening statement.
According to the most recent statistics provided by Customs and Border Patrol, 103,492 migrants were apprehended in March 2019. The last time apprehensions on the southern border were higher than that was in April 2007 when 104,465 illegals were apprehended, according to CBP statistics.
“Simply put, the system is full, and we are well beyond our capacity. This means that the new waves of vulnerable populations arriving here and exacerbating the already urgent humanitarian security crisis at the border, we don’t have room to hold them. We don’t have the authority to hold them fairly and expeditiously, and they are not likely to be allowed to remain in the country at the end of their immigration proceedings,” he said.
McAleenan said his department has received help from the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services in its efforts to address the crisis on the border.
“The status quo is not acceptable. Through supplemental requests and emergency declarations, we have worked to do everything to address the immediate and dire humanitarian crisis that we can. We’ve deployed medical teams from the U.S. Coast Guard. We received help from the Department of Defense and Health and Human Services,” he said.
“We’ve redeployed CBP officers, and we’ve engaged with nonprofits across the country, but we do need more authorities – as the ranking member noted – and more resources to definitively address the crisis. We need sustained investment in additional emergency support at the southwest border to overcome the humanitarian and security crisis that we face,” McAleenan said.
As for the president’s budget proposal, DHS requests $523 million to address the humanitarian crisis on the border, McAleenan said. “This money will allow us to provide better care for those we come into contact with through apprehension, care in custody, detention, and where appropriate removal.
“Second, to address the border security crisis, it requests $5 billion in funding for the construction of approximately 200 miles of new border wall system. This is a proven deterrent that will enhance our ability to apprehend those entering our nation illegally. It also calls for 750 additional Border Patrol agents, 273 Customs and Border Protection officers, and over 1660 ICE frontline and support personnel,” he said.
The budget also calls for upgrades to “sensors, command and control systems, and aircraft to help our men and women combat criminals who are profiting from human suffering,” McAleenan said.
“I hear weekly from our operators on the border that these upgrades are badly needed in their fight against transnational criminal organizations, smugglers, and gangs. I would please ask for your support to our men and women who are doing heroic work along the border,” the secretary said.
DHS will run out of resources before the end of fiscal year 2019, McAleenan warned, so the administration will be asking for supplemental funding to deal with the crisis on the border, but that’s not the only agency that is running out of funding. Supplemental budget requests will be sent for HHS as well.
“While our 2020 budget will help address this crisis, we will need additional funding even sooner. Given the scale of what we’re facing, we will exhaust our resources before the end of our fiscal year, which is why this week, the administration will be sending a supplemental funding request to the Congress,” he said.
“As I am sure you are only too aware, DHS is not the only agency involved in the humanitarian crisis unfolding daily at our southern border. Our partners at the Department of Health and Human Services are also on the brink of running out of resources. The administration’s supplemental request will address critical humanitarian requirements and help ensure the crisis is managed in an operationally effective, humanitarian and safe manner,” McAleenan said.
“The administration’s supplemental requests will not only provide critical humanitarian assistance, including temporary and semi-permanent migrant processing facilities at the southern border where families and children will receive timely and appropriate medical attention, food, and temporary shelter prior to being transferred to other residential locations, but also funding for border operations to include surge personnel expenses and increased detention capacity,” he said.
“And finally, for mission support activities, including upgrades to our overtaxed information technology systems, to manage and process migrants accurately, efficiently and quickly. The supplemental request is part one. The second request will be the administration’s legislative proposal, which will be sent to Congress shortly to address the key drivers of the humanitarian crisis,” the secretary said.