Arrests on US-Mexico border spike as critics warn Trump approach to security ‘encourages illegal migration’

Chaotic approach to southern border security is encouraging illegal migration, says critic

Clark Mindock
New York
@ClarkMindock
Wednesday 06 March 2019 00:08
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Border patrol commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan says US facing 'alarming trends' of people crossing South West border

The number of migrants crossing illegally into the US over the southwest border more than doubled last month to its highest level in the past 12 years, according to a new statistics that have border officials saying the system is at a “breaking point.”

There were more than 76,000 migrants who crossed the border without authorisation in February, more than double what was seen in the same period the year before. A total of 87 per cent of those crossing arrived between points of entry.

In announcing the new data, US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said that the US immigration system is facing considerable obstacles.

“The system is well beyond capacity, and remains at the breaking point,” Mr McAleenan said.

Many of the migrants have been turning themselves in at Border Patrol stations hours away from major ports of entry, forced into the deserts by Trump administration policies that critics say has helped to create the crisis that the president is now using to justify an emergency declaration to build out walls and fences along the border.

The groups arriving at those outposts in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have arrived in groups of 100 or more people, straining limited resources where just a handful of border agents are typically stationed. All told, 70 of those groups came across last month, compared to just 13 during the same month last year, and two the year before.

Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington, told The Independent that the shift to non-points of entry suggested the Trump administration’s policy of metering — limits on the number of people who can claim asylum at a border checkpoint — and others have created circumstances that encourage illegal entry into the US.

“Today’s numbers suggest that the administration’s chaotic approach to southern border security is actually encouraging illegal migration,” she said.

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The department of homeland security's inspector general has similarly concluded that the Trump administrations' metering policy may have led to additional illegal border crossings.

The numbers outlined by officials showed that migrant families were not deterred by family separation policies, Ms Pierce said, and the end of the policy last year led to record numbers of families attempting to enter the US.

Officials said that 90 per cent of the migrants crossing in February came from Guatemala. And, officials said they have seen a change in the way that migrants have been travelling to the US-Mexico, with many bypassing thee weeks-long walk in favour of buses that can hep them make the trip in a week.

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