On Oct. 21, Border Patrol disclosed that its agents caught 4,476 unaccompanied minors and 5,273 parents with their children at the U.S.-Mexico border in September. These numbers are a concerning surge to end a fiscal year that has seen the number of border crossings decrease.
The number of border crossings by unaccompanied minors and family units have dropped by 42 percent compared to last year’s record, the San Antonio Express-News reports. Only 39,970 children were caught at the border in 2015 as opposed to the 68,541 reported cases in 2014. Meanwhile, the number of family units caught has dropped from 68,445 to 39,838.
Officials had hoped the 2015 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, would see the lowest number in illegal border crossing since the 1970s, the Washington Times reports. These September numbers have offset their expectations.
Officials say the majority of illegal immigrants are coming from the Central American nations of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. These countries are experiencing increasing violence and unrest, driving their populations to flee.
The surge in border crossings is also due to an ineffective strategy in securing the border, according to National Border Patrol Council official Chris Cabrera
“We’re talking about the rule of law in other countries; we’re not enforcing the rule of law in this country,” Cabrera told a Senate Homeland Security panel on Oct. 21, the Washington Times reports.
Immigrants entering illegally who are caught at the border are not immediately deported. Instead, they are given court dates and released into the country. The problem is that the majority of illegals do not show up for court.
“In Border Patrol circles, that paperwork is now known as the ‘notice to disappear’ — 80 percent, 90 percent of those folks will not show up for that hearing,” said Cabrera.
Many of those who flee from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are desperate to never return. It can be a matter of life and death, with 83 reported cases since January 2014 of Central American immigrants being swiftly murdered after being sent back to their home countries, according to The Guardian.
The U.S. government is investing $1.2 million in a media campaign to discourage Central Americans from attempting to cross the border, San Antonio Express-News reports.