Border Patrol apprehended record number of migrant families in May as Trump threatens Mexico

Alan Gomez

U.S. Border Patrol broke yet another record in May, apprehending 84,542 members of family units crossing the southwest border with Mexico, the fourth straight month the agency has broken its record for family arrests, according to data released Wednesday. 

That represents a 44% increase from April’s total of 58,724 family members caught crossing the border, a clear indication that President Donald Trump’s efforts to stop the flow of migrants across the southern border are not working and that Central American families are continuing their march north. 

That has left Border Patrol officials scrambling to house, process, and medically screen all those migrants. The agency, which can normally hold between 4,000 and 6,000 people at its stations across the southern border, is now holding more than 19,000 people as they wait for space to open up at immigration detention centers around the country.

“We are bursting at the seams,” Randy Howe, executive director of Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations, told reporters during a conference call Wednesday announcing the new numbers. “It’s unsustainable and this can’t continue.”

The new numbers come on the same day that Mexican officials are meeting in Washington with members of the Trump administration to negotiate a way out of Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on Mexico over its perceived failure to stop Central Americans crossing that country.

Mexican officials say they are doing everything they can, increasing the number of Central Americans arrested and offering asylum to more of them. All told, the Mexicans estimate they will stop 250,000 migrants from reaching the U.S. in 2019, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Monday during a news conference in Washington.

But Trump continues to blame Mexico for the ever-increasing number of migrants reaching the U.S. border. During a stop Wednesday in Ireland, the president said he hoped the talks with Mexico could lead to improved cooperation between the two countries but remained committed to imposing the tariffs beginning Monday if he is not satisfied with their offer.

The tariffs would start at 5% and increase each month, reaching 25% by October if Mexico doesn’t convince the U.S. that it’s doing enough to stop illegal immigration.

According to the data released Wednesday, Border Patrol agents also apprehended more than 36,000 single adults and more than 11,000 unaccompanied minors in May.

That brought the total number of apprehensions in May to 132,887, the highest monthly total during the Trump administration and the highest monthly figure since March 2006.

In this file photo taken on May 31, 2019 migrants are pictured waiting to be taken to a processing facility near the Paso Del Norte International Bridge in Downtown El Paso, Texas. -

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Border Patrol apprehended record number of migrant families in May as Trump threatens Mexico