20 January, 2019
Almost 250 migrants - mostly Central American migrants, including families and small children - were also detained by Border Patrol agents on Wednesday after surrendering at a Border Patrol outpost on the New Mexican border.
The southwest border is comprised of nine sectors, including the RGV sector, Big Bend, Del Rio, El Centro, El Paso, Laredo, San Diego, Tucson and Yuma.
The largest single group of asylum-seekers to be taken into custody in the US reportedly tunneled beneath a section of the border wall outside Yuma, Arizona.
"That's our No. 1 challenge that we have here in the Yuma sector, is the humanitarian problem", he told ABC News.
"The United States Border Patrol is constantly building intelligence in order to combat these trafficking organizations that are constantly targeting them and gaining intelligence in order to apprehend them in the future", said Jose Garibay, Yuma Sector Border Patrol public information officer, according to CBS affiliate KSWT-TV.
Border Patrol officials said agents would be processing the aforementioned apprehended subjects accordingly, according to the release. "The only reason they're trying to say that they're family units is that they know if they're a family unit, they're going to be released within 20 days". Only three agents were patrolling the 26-mile long section.
He added: "In my 30 years with the Border Patrol, I have not been part of arresting a group of 376 people".
Despite the likelihood of arrest and an increasingly hostile rhetoric from the White House as President Donald Trump seeks funding for his proposed southern border wall, people still seek to enter the U.S. illegally. More than 30 were unaccompanied minors, or children under 18 traveling on their own.
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The father said he left a wife and two younger daughters back in Guatemala.
The group is believed to be the largest one yet to cross the border in a bid to get asylum in the U.S. The agency noted that smugglers often try to transport large groups of people and instruct them to cross the border and voluntarily surrender.
Parents with children now reportedly make up more than 80 per cent of those caught crossing the southern border illegally. "Almost all were families or unaccompanied juveniles", CPB Arizona said in a tweet.
The stalemate has resulted in a partial government shutdown now in its 28th day with no end in sight, leaving 800,000 federal workers in limbo.
The crossings came as President Trump is demanding $5.7 billion for his long-promised border wall with Mexico.
The number of people being taken into custody after illegally crossing the border has fluctuated in recent years between 400,000 and 570,000 people.
That study also estimated the number of illegal immigrants now in the U.S.at 10.7 million.