(CNSNews.com) - More than fifty thousand people -- 50,308 -- were either apprehended or deemed inadmissible at the Southwest border last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said on Wednesday. It's the highest monthly total of the Trump presidency.
The 50,308 apprehended/inadmissibles in March is a 37 percent increase from the 36,695 counted in February, but a whopping 203 percent increase from March 2017's 16,588.
CBP said the number of family units increased by 49 percent from February to March, and the number of unaccompanied children increased by 41 percent compared to February.
"The traffickers and smugglers know that, if you arrive with a family, under our current legal and court system, you have a much better chance of being released into the United States," Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the White House press briefing on Wednesday. "We have seen the smugglers advertise this as an enticement. And we have seen traffickers, unfortunately, fraudulently use children to gain entry into our country."
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, a senior administration official, speaking on background, noted that in April 2017, the number of apprehended/inadmissibles dropped to a historic low of 15,766.
"We are no longer at that point," the official said. "The numbers we'll be releasing for March...will indicate a staggering increase from last year. And they clearly emphasize the need for additional actions."
According to CBP, last month, 37,393 individuals were apprehended between ports of entry on the Southwest border, compared with 26,662 in February and 25,978 in Janury.
Another 12,915 people were deemed inadmissible at ports of entry on the Southwest border last month, compared with 10,021 in February, and 9,839 in January.
Looking at annual totals, CBP said in Fiscal Year 2017, USBP apprehended 303,916 individuals along the Southwest Border, compared with 408,870 in FY16; 331,333 in FY15; and 479,371 in FY14.
In FY 2017, 111,275 individuals were deemed inadmissible compared to 150,825 in FY16; 114,486 in FY15; and 90,601 in FY14.
President Trump on Wednesday authorized the deployment of National Guard troops to the Southwest border to support the Border Patrol in halting illegal immigration.
"Given the importance of secure borders to our national security, the National Guard, in coordination with governors, will remain in a support role until Congress takes the action necessary to close the loopholes undermining our border security efforts, including ending the practice of Catch and Release," the announcement said.
The Trump White House noted that President Barack Obama sent National Guard trooops to the border in 2012, and President George W. Bush did so as well during his term.
The announcement said Trump is taking action "because congressional Democrats have obstructed efforts to secure our border."