Mike Lillis, The Hill, May 4, 2016
The number of families and unaccompanied children apprehended on the southern border has skyrocketed this year, according to new figures from the Obama administration.
The numbers, compiled by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), reveal that child migration is on par with 2014 levels, when a wave of kids–thousands of them unaccompanied–arrived at the southern border.
The new figures raise the specter of another increase this summer. That would almost certainly inflame another political showdown in a volatile presidential year in which the issues of race, immigration and border security have been pronounced–particularly due to the hard-line enforcement approach adopted by the presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Through the first six months of fiscal 2016, which ended on March 31, border officials apprehended 27,754 unaccompanied children, the CBP reported–a 78 percent jump from the 15,616 apprehended in 2015, and just shy of the 28,579 apprehended in 2014.
For family units, which consist of at least one child traveling with at least one adult, the increase was even more dramatic. In the first six months of 2016, 32,117 families were apprehended, the CBP reported–an increase of 131 percent from the 2015 figure (13,913) and 62 percent from the 2014 figure (19,830).
It’s unclear if the 2016 increases will continue into the summer and rival the surge total of 2014. The Obama administration has scrambled to prevent a similar crisis since then, and Congress last year approved $750 million to help stabilize El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in hopes of slowing the flow of people trying to come to the U.S.