Nearly a year before President Obama declared a humanitarian crisis on the border, a team of experts arrived in Brownsville, Tx., and discovered a makeshift transportation depot for a deluge of foreign children, the Washington Post reports. Thirty Border Patrol agents were assigned to drive the children to off-site showers, wash their clothes and make them sandwiches. As soon as those children were put in temporary shelters, more arrived. An average of 66 were apprehended each day and more than 24,000 cycled through Texas patrol stations in 2013. In a report to the Department of Homeland Security, the team from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) raised alarms about the federal government's capacity to manage a situation that was expected to grow worse.
The report was among warning signs conveyed to the Obama administration over the past two years as a surge of Central American minors crossed into south Texas illegally. More than 57,000 have entered the U.S. this year, swamping federal resources and catching the government unprepared. The administration did too little to heed warnings, said former government officials, outside experts and immigrant advocates, leading to an inadequate response that contributed to this summer's escalating crisis. Federal officials viewed the situation as a “local problem,” said Victor Manjarrez, a former Border Patrol station chief who led the study. Cecilia Muñoz, Obama's domestic policy adviser, said the “trend was more like a hockey stick, going up and up and up. Nobody could have predicted the scale of the increase we saw this year. The minute we saw it, we responded in an aggressive way.”