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15,600 immigrants apprehended in Arizona’s border sectors in March

(Flickr Photo/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

PHOENIX – The number of immigrants without legal status apprehended in Arizona and across the U.S.-Mexico border continues to surge, especially for those taken into custody in family units.

More than 15,600 immigrants were apprehended in Arizona’s two border sectors, Tucson and Yuma, in March, according to statistics released Tuesday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

That was a nearly 50 percent increase over February’s 10,500 apprehensions in those sectors.

Around 92,600 apprehensions were made at all U.S. border sectors in March, a nearly 40 percent increase from the 66,800 the previous month.

In addition, around 10,800 people who presented themselves at ports of entry were deemed inadmissible in March, bringing the number of total border enforcement actions to above 103,000, the most for one month in more than a decade.

The totals include single adults, unaccompanied children and people in family units. Family members – where at least one parent or guardian was traveling with at least one child under 18 – accounted for 60% of apprehensions in March.

The family apprehensions have skyrocketed by 374% in all sectors during the first sixth months of the current fiscal year compared to the same time frame for the 2018 fiscal year.

That increase was 273% in the Yuma sector and 230% in Tucson. It was most notable in the El Paso sector, where it surged by 1,670%.

“If Congress doesn’t want to be part of the solution, what they need to do … is get out of the way and let the (White House) administration do their work, so we can get this crisis under hand, drive the numbers back down,” Border Patrol agents union president Brandon Judd told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday.

“There are things that can be done … that are being explored,” he said.

“We can start the process earlier by doing credible fear interviews immediately after arrest,” Judd said of those saying they feared for their lives if they returned to their countries.

“It would allow us to deport people a lot quicker if they failed those interviews.”

Caring for the families is hindering U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s ability to perform all of its duties, officials said.

“The humanitarian crisis created by a massive influx of family groups and unaccompanied children in recent months has forced CBP to reallocate resources away from law enforcement, trade and travel missions to process and provide care for those in our custody,” Deputy Commissioner Robert E. Perez said in a press release.

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