“This is an unprecedented effort to try to keep these borders safe, to keep our communities safe, to keep the United States safe,” Del Rio Sector Division Chief Louie Collins told reporters Friday.
About 1,800 migrants from Central America are being housed by the Mexican government across the Rio Grande in Piedras Negras. Some could be there for months as they wait to apply in the United States for asylum. Up to 20 cases can be processed each day, said Paul Del Rincon, port director for the Eagle Pass Port of Entry. So far, the people who have been interviewed were migrants who came before the caravan.
Border Patrol agents picked up a family of five Honduran nationals in the river near Eagle Pass on Friday morning. The two adults with three children were wading through tough currents as they attempted to cross near the Camino Real International Bridge, the agency said.
The family was seen by medical staff and taken to the Eagle Pass South Station for processing. They also were not part of the caravan, Collins said.
Total apprehensions of migrants at the southern border ticked down In January, in line with seasonal drops in illegal migration, according to monthly Customs and Border Protection data released Friday.
While historically there are decreases in enforcement actions from December to January, “this decrease is one of the lowest that we’ve had on record,” a CBP official said.
But another CBP official argued that although in the past the total numbers of apprehensions were much higher, what is taking place now is a “change in dynamics.”
Historically, Border Patrol most of the people apprehended have been adults from Mexico, but now 50 percent of apprehensions are families — primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the official said.
“Our facilities first and foremost are not designed to house this type of dynamic,” added the official.
Additionally, the number of large groups — more than 100 people — encountered by Border Patrol skyrocketed this fiscal year, the official said.
“It’s not just the size of group, but makeup and where the groups are entering,” the official said.
For example, groups are arriving in “very remote, very rugged, harsh environments,” added the official.
One such group was taken into US custody Thursday near Lukeville, Arizona.
The group had almost 150 children — 32 with no family member accompanying them — and more than 170 adults.
Group members told agents from Arizona’s Ajo Station that they were dropped off near the border by vehicles on Mexico’s Federal Highway 2, not far from where they were apprehended by agents, customs officials said.