U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in El Paso, TX Wednesday that border security is at its “breaking point.”
McAleenan’s law enforcement agency hosted a livestream of the commissioner’s press conference on YouTube.
“Two weeks ago, I briefed the media and testified in Congress that our immigration system was at the breaking point,” McAleenan said. “That breaking point has arrived this week at our border. CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest Border—and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso.”
McAleenan announced that border officers apprehended more than 12,000 migrants along the El Paso border within the past two mornings. El Paso Times explained that while that number isn’t as large compared to areas like the Rio Grande Valley, the city has seen the biggest growth.
"A high number is 4,000 — 6,000 is crisis level," McAleenan added. "12,000 is unprecedented. On Monday, we saw the highest total of apprehensions and encounters in years, with over 4,000 in a single day."
McAleenan mentioned that border customs is, “on pace for over 100,000 apprehensions and encounters with migrants, with 90 percent — 90,000 — crossing the border illegally between ports of entry.”
The commissioner pointed to issues surrounding migrants seeking asylum. 10 to 15 percent of those migrants have legitimate claims, McAleenan said, but it will take the courts years to get to them.
65 percent of people crossing the border are families and children, but among those migrants are people hiding in the background, with more malicious intents.
“The same criminal organizations that are smuggling migrants,” McAleenan said. “Profiting from them, abusing them on the journey, are benefiting from our reduced security presence. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing adults who are trying to evade capture behind those families as were bogged down with large groups.”
McAleenan said the increase in family units crossing the border is due to “vulnerabilities” in the U.S.’s legal policy. Smugglers take advantage of the fact that they will be released into the country while immigration proceedings are pending in the courts.
“These are due to court orders that undermine the integrity of our immigration system,” he said. “There’s no questioning why this is happening.”
McAleenan advised that Congress should look to solutions to “reinstate integrity” in the immigration system. Otherwise, CBP needs more resources to keep up with the growing influx of immigrants.
“The surge numbers are just overwhelming the entire system," McAleenan said.