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Central American families, children cross into US near Yuma


PHOENIX — A large group of Central Americans, mostly families and unaccompanied children, crossed into the United States from Mexico near Yuma earlier this week.

The Arizona branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Friday that 376 people illegally crossed the border in the southeast corner of Arizona on Monday.

According to ABC News, the asylum seekers tunneled beneath the border wall near San Luis. It was the largest single group of asylum seekers ever to cross into the U.S.

One hundred and seventy nine people in the group were children. More than 30 were unaccompanied minors, or children under 18 traveling on their own.

Yuma Border Sector Chief Anthony Porvaznik said the large group was “really unheard of.

“In my 30 years with the Border Patrol, I have not been part of arresting a group of 376 people,” he told the television network.

“That’s our No. 1 challenge that we have here in the Yuma sector, is the humanitarian problem,” Porvaznik added.

“As I mentioned, 87 percent of the apprehensions here are family units and unaccompanied alien children.”

The asylum seekers were processed by Border Patrol agents, the agency said. Most of the families were sent to the central processing center in Yuma.

The majority of crossers are parents with children, making up more than 80 percent. The majority of them surrender immediately or seek out Border Patrol agents to start the asylum process.

The number of unauthorized crossings peaked in 2001 with about 1.6 million apprehensions and has plummeted since, according to government statistics.

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