By World Tribune- An overwhelming increase in the number of illegals rushing the U.S.-Mexico border has brought the U.S. immigration system to “the breaking point,” according to U.S. Border and Customs Protection (CBP).
The United States has detained more immigrants traveling in family groups at the southern border in the last five months than it did in the previous 12 months, the agency said.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent takes Central American immigrants into custody after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border at El Paso, Texas on Feb. 1.
From October through February, border agents arrested 136,150 people traveling in families at the U.S.-Mexico border. In the previous 12-month period, 107,212 people were arrested.
In February alone, more than 66,400 people were arrested, making it the busiest month at the border since President Donald Trump took office and the busiest February since 2008.
CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said on March 5 that the sheer volume of families, most of whom voluntarily turn themselves in to law enforcement to seek asylum, has overwhelmed government facilities which are intended to hold single adults for a few hours at a time.
“This situation is not sustainable. The system is well beyond capacity and remains at the breaking point,” he said.
McAleenan said that “the vulnerabilities in the legal framework are creating the incentives for families and children to come to the border” and that there was an “acute need” for Congress to address them.
Families, or those claiming to be part of family units, now make up 60 percent of arrests at the border, CBP reported. That includes what the agency said is a relatively small number of unaccompanied children.
Most of the migrant families come from Central American nations including El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. And, CBP said, most don’t try to evade capture and instead surrender to border agents to seek asylum.
Illegals who cross the border as party of a family have an advantage as those with children in tow are typically detained for shorter periods than adults traveling alone. There is a 20-day limit on jailing children, after which they are released into the U.S. with their parents while their claims are adjudicated. Single adults are typically deported back to their home countries more quickly.
Trump has said lax asylum laws have made it too easy for illegals to make weak or fraudulent asylum claims.
The president has also said that smuggling operations intentionally pair adults with children to all but ensure they will be released while a judge decides their fate.
The is a current backlog of more than 829,000 cases in federal immigration court. A ruling can take years.