Migrant Apprehensions Hit 13-year High: Trump's 'Half-baked, Insidious' Policies to Blame for Border 'Chaos,' Immigration Advocates Say

Migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border hit a 13-year high in May, according to new data released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency on Wednesday.

According to the CBP's data, Border Patrol agents apprehended 132,887 migrants at the southwest border in the month of May, representing the highest total since March 2006, when 160,696 migrants were apprehended at the border.

The numbers also represent a more than 33,000 rise since April, when 99,304 migrants were stopped at the border, and is more than three times higher than the monthly total for May of last year.

In a statement, Acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders warned that the surge in arrivals was creating a "system-wide emergency that is severely impacting our workforce, facilities and resources," with the agency forced to reassign at least 1,000 workers to help Border Patrol agents process the influx of arrivals.

Responding to the dramatic surge in arrests, immigration advocates blamed President Donald Trump and his administration for enforcing policies that were creating "chaos" at the border and pushing Central Americans to flee the Northern Triangle, with Hondurans, Guatemalans and El Salvador making up 72 percent of those apprehended in May.

In an emailed statement, Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of immigration advocacy group Families Belong Together accused President Donald Trump of refusing to address the causes driving migration and instead exacerbating the issue by slashing aid to Central American countries.

"Trump ignores the root causes of migration, slashes aid to Central America, and ignores the experts," Morales Rocketto said, noting that the push factors driving migration from Central American countries, including violence, economic and political instability and food security, have been well-documented by immigration experts, including the Department of Homeland Security's own current acting secretary, Kevin McAleenan.

Despite that, Morales Rocketto said, Trump continues to push for aid cuts, while passing "half-baked, insidious policy to create chaos on the border so he can double down on cruelty to shore up his base," she continued.

Morales Rocketto suggested that the Trump administration was using the surging numbers at the border as part of "a race-baiting political strategy that stokes hatred toward immigrants."

"We've seen this before. Trump and the Republican party spent the midterm elections trying desperately to stoke fears of immigrants and divide the country for political gain," she said. "Their strategy backfired: they lost the popular vote, lost independents, and lost the House of Representatives."

In recent months, CBP has seen a significant rise in the number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, with a large share of asylum seekers being family units.

Among the 132,887 people apprehended at the border in May, there were 84,542 family units, including many children. Meanwhile 11,507 of that total were unaccompanied migrant children, with another 36,838 being single adults, according to CBP data.

May's data also showed that the majority of family units had been apprehended along the Texas border, with 104,131 migrant families being stopped by Border Patrol's El Paso sector, while another 135,812 were apprehended by the Rio Grande sector alone.

Last month, a total of 11,391 people were also deemed "inadmissible," meaning they presented themselves at designated ports of entry at the southwest border and were turned away. Among those deemed inadmissible, there were 4,134 family units, as well as 386 unaccompanied migrant children and 6,799 single adults.

Border, migrants, apprehended, U.S.-Mexico
A large group of migrants walk and stand while being detained by border authorities in the early morning hours after crossing to the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border and turning themselves in, at the Antelope Wells port of entry, on May 18, 2019 in Antelope Wells, New Mexico. New data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency shows numbers of migrants apprehended at the border hit a 13-year high in the month of May. Getty/Mario Tama
Migrant Apprehensions Hit 13-year High: Trump's 'Half-baked, Insidious' Policies to Blame for Border 'Chaos,' Immigration Advocates Say | U.S.