The Border Patrol reports a total of 47,214 illegal border crossings for the month of November. This is 44% higher than 2015, and marks last month as the worst November on record for illegal immigration.
Over 15,000 of these individuals arrived in family groups, but 7,000 were unaccompanied minors. The number of children traveling without adults has skyrocketed by more than 200% when compared to Ocotber and November of last year.
Many blame the widespread poverty and violence in Central America for the surge in migration, but Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan insists that migrants have learned to take advantage of US policy.
And they aren’t just coming from Central America. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports increased migration from Haiti (via Brazil) and Cuba.
“CBP continues to maintain a strong security posture through background checks of all individuals encountered and ensures that each person is processed in accordance with US immigration laws and DHS policy,” said the agency.
The increased number of children and families seeking entry into the US has put serious strain on the border patrol, and CBP has been forced to open additional facilities to handle the workload.
Over 100 agents have been relocated to Texas, which is experiencing the brunt of the surge.
Morgan complains that many of the best agents – who should be on the front lines – have been reassigned to mundane babysitting duties:
“I never thought in my 20 years that I would be as part of the procurement ordering baby powder and baby wipes. Agents, one of their jobs during the day is to actually make sure that the food, the burritos that were provided, are being warmed properly.”
Even worse, Morgan believes the children and families are keeping agents busy while drug smugglers continue to enter the country.
“Many of the migrants have figured out how to game the system and exploit the administration’s struggles,” reports The Washington Times. “Nearly 1 in 10 encountered at the border now are demanding asylum, using what Mr. Morgan called ‘magic words’ to bypass the usual deportation procedure and get released quickly.”
Over 5,000 Haitians used the “magic words” to gain entry during October and November.
On top of that, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is facing serious criticism for holding entire families in custody while they await their deportation hearings. ICE argues that holding families in custody is the only way to make sure they show up for the hearings, but immigration rights groups argue the practice is inhumane.
As of November 2016, ICE has expanded its facilities to accommodate a whopping 41,000 migrants.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights argues that “even short periods of detention have an adverse and long-lasting effect on a child’s development.”