by Stephen Dinan – June 17, 2016
The number of illegal immigrant families jumping the border so far this fiscal year has already topped all of 2015, according to Homeland Security statistics released Friday that show the administration’s border problems continue to grow.
Some 6,788 people traveling as families were caught on the southwest border in May — a leap of more than 20 percent over April, and putting the total for the first eight months of the fiscal year at nearly 45,000.
That’s already well above the 2015 yearlong total of fewer than 40,000, though it’s short of the record pace set in 2014, when a massive surge exposed massive holes in the U.S. immigration system.
Federal and local authorities have struggled to explain the latest surge in families, but a government lawyer gave one explanation to a federal judge earlier this month, saying that the Obama administration’s own lax enforcement policies, set in part by the courts, have enticed ever more people to make the harrowing journey.
The Justice Department’s immigration-law expert even told the judge that Illegal immigrants are abducting children on their trip north, hoping to pose as families to take advantage of the lax policies.
Overall immigration — including families, children traveling alone, and the more traditional adult illegal immigration — is up dramatically compared to 2015, powered by a major spike over the winter, and steady increases in the spring.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson visited Central America, which is responsible for most of the spike in children and families, to try to urge would-be migrants to stay home.
In a statement Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection placed the blame for the surge on “push factors” in Central America, but did not mention U.S. policies that are enticing migration.
“We continue to work aggressively to address the underlying causes of illegal migration, to deter future increases, to further secure our border, and to support broader regional efforts to provide avenues for protection of vulnerable populations in Central America,” CBP said in the statement.
CBP said it’s already deported some 50,000 people back to Central America so far in fiscal year 2016 — though the agency’s own figures show that means they’re falling behind, with nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children and families already having been caught so far this year. That figure doesn’t include the regular adults, who would show an even larger backlog building.