“An operational crisis”
AP, El Paso, Texas — The Trump administration said Wednesday it will temporarily reassign several hundred border inspectors as beleaguered forces already stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border struggle to keep pace with the growing number of migrant families who are showing up at the border in poor health and turning themselves in to agents to request asylum.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the reassignment of 750 border inspectors would mean longer waits at crossings as the busy Easter holiday nears but that it was necessary to address what he called “an operational crisis.”
The reassigned officers will process migrants, provide transportation and perform hospital watches for migrants who require medical attention. It is unknown when they will return to their regular duties.
“There will be impacts to traffic at the border,” McAleenan said at a news conference in El Paso, Texas, which, after years of relative calm, has quickly emerged as the second-busiest corridor for illegal crossings after Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
“There will be a slowdown in the processing of trade. There will be wait times in our pedestrian and passenger vehicle lanes.”
McAleenan spoke in front of the metal fencing that separates El Paso from Juarez, Mexico, after a delay that followed the apprehension of several migrants who had crossed a shallow spot on the Rio Grande nearby and turned themselves in.
Arrests along the Mexican border jumped to 66,450 in February, up 149 percent from a year earlier, while arrests in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, which stretches across New Mexico and much of West Texas, were about eight times higher than they were a year ago.
March is shaping up to be even busier. McAleenan said the agency was on track to make 100,000 arrests or denials of entry during the month, up about 30 percent from February and about double the same period last year.
About 55,000 will have arrived as families, including 40,000 children. Read more.
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