More than 90,000 immigrants traveling as part of a family have been arrested crossing the U.S. border illegally in the last 11 months, the highest such number in at least five years, the Wall Street Journal reports. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said 12,274 people traveling as part of a family, mostly from Central America, were arrested at the border in August. That was a 38 percent increase over July, when just over 9,000 were apprehended. The total number of people arrested at the border in August rose 20 percent from the prior month, to more than 37,500.
McAleenan said the rise in arrests of families was a “very direct response to the vulnerabilities” in U.S. immigration law and that the government has little ability to deter immigrant families and children traveling alone from crossing the border illegally. “There are no consequences to being apprehended, in fact they are seeking to be apprehended to start their processing of being allowed into the country and start their court process,” McAleenan said. “It is a crisis of significant proportion.” The Trump administration has been struggling to curb the flow of illegal border crossers, particularly families, in recent months. Its policy of separating parents and children and criminally prosecuting the adults was scuttled in late June after widespread criticism.