After steadily climbing for months, the number of migrant families arrested at the United States border have now reached their highest number in history.
U.S. border agents apprehended 27,518 members of “family units” in the month of December, according to the most recent U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) report. The numbers make it the highest monthly total on record.
The number of family members arrested at the U.S. southern border has been increasing for the past five months, and have ticked up significantly from years prior. CBP averaged 31,188 family units and unaccompanied alien children apprehensions each month in fiscal year 2019 — a 136 percent increase from the 13,210 average monthly apprehensions in fiscal year 2017.
Family units make up a smaller fraction of overall border apprehensions. In December, U.S. authorities detained 60,782 migrants who tried entering the country illegally. It was the third month in a row that migrant arrests surpassed 60,000 — some of the highest levels during President Donald Trump’s tenure.
The CBP report comes as Washington, D.C., continues to be engulfed in a battle over proposed funding for a border wall.
“This is a humanitarian crisis. A crisis of the heart, and a crisis of the soul,” Trump said in a nationally televised speech Tuesday night about illegal immigration. The president detailed the amount of drugs and crime that pass through the U.S. southern border, and why a wall is needed. “This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border. This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end.”
Trump is demanding Congress include $5.7 billion in funding for construction of a wall on the country’s border with Mexico. Congressional Democrats, however, have so far refused his demand, framing his proposal as needlessly expensive and immoral. The standoff has resulted in a partial shutdown as lawmakers cannot reach a consensus on a budget to fund government services.
The shutdown reached day 19 on Wednesday. Should the stalemate last another three days, it will tie the longest shutdown in U.S. history — a 21-day shutdown ensued from December 1995 to January 1996 when President Bill Clinton and the GOP Congress clashed over a budget agreement.
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