The number of migrants taken into custody along the U.S. southern border soared to nearly one million during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to Trump administration data released Tuesday, the Washington Post reports. The unauthorized crossings from Mexico into the U.S. marked the highest volume in 12 years, amid a record influx of Central American families that peaked during the spring, overwhelming U.S. agents, border stations and immigration courtrooms. Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said that more than 52,000 migrants were taken into custody in September at U.S. ports of entry and between them. It was a decline of 18 percent from August.
Overall, U.S. border authorities made more than 975,000 arrests during the 2019 fiscal year, according to the latest data. Morgan said arrests increased 88 percent during the 2019 fiscal year, calling it a “staggering” increase. “These are numbers no immigration system in the world is designed to handle,” he said. Arrests by U.S. border agents reached an all-time high of 1.6 million in 2000, but Department of Homeland Security officials insist that the migration wave they faced this year is unlike anything in the past. A generation ago, most of the migrants crossing the border illegally were single adults from Mexico who could be quickly processed and deported. This year, Central American parents with children became the overwhelming majority of border crossers. Instead of seeking to evade capture, many sought out U.S. agents to surrender and expressed a fear of being sent home, the first step in seeking asylum or another form of legal protection in the U.S.