19:22 GMT05 June 2020
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    According to Customs and Border Protection Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs Andrew Meehan, the number of migrants crossing the US southern border has increased by nearly 31 per cent. The data shows that the number of people crossing the number reached some 76,000 in February.

    Sputnik discussed this with Sergio A. Tinoco, a federal agent working for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and author of the book Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, & Agent.

    Sputnik: 76,000, that's a huge number! How has that happened? How is it that the numbers have just skyrocketed?

    Sergio A. Tinoco: It's a huge dilemma. The numbers have skyrocketed because of the immigration loopholes that exist in our immigration system. We are only able to hold or detain family units and unaccompanied children for no more than 20-22 days. So, if they have no criminal record, the adults, then there is, of course, no way for us to deport them, especially if they are from countries other than Mexico, such as Guatemala, Honduras and other countries. These people know that they can come over, be arrested by us — the border patrol actually arrests them — they apprehend, they turn themselves in knowing that in 22 days they will be let free into the community. That's if we still have space at shelters for them; if we don't have space for shelters or at shelters for them, they get released as soon as we've done processing them at the border patrol.

    READ MORE: Trump Signs National Emergency to Fund Border Wall, Says He's Likely Be Sued

    Sputnik: Surely if everyone knows that these loopholes exist, why isn't anything done to deal with that?

    Sergio A. Tinoco: That's a very good question. This is something that has been asked of Congress to take care of for more than three decades already. The border patrol has proven time and time again that the wall works, that's why asking for the wall to be built; but we also ask that it must be accompanied with the closure of immigration loopholes such as the ones that are being exploited at this time.

    Sputnik: So, the wall plus improved legislation will actually amount to a significant drop in the number of migrants, is that your opinion?

    Sergio A. Tinoco: Absolutely. In the past, the wall system alone, which includes technology as well as more agents on the ground, has dropped numbers by more than 96 per cent, more than a hundred percent in some areas like California and Arizona. So, you add the closure of immigration loopholes to that and it would be then far greater than that.

    READ MORE: Trump to Seek $8Bln More for Wall After Declaring State of Emergency — Reports

    Sputnik: President Donald Trump has been calling for a border wall for a lot of time now, calling for more security. Do you think now, perhaps, these numbers can kind of help his cause?

    Sergio A. Tinoco: You know, it's not necessarily his cause. I mean, the administration is pushing for border security, and we in border patrol continue to say daily that border security is national security. The numbers are there to prove our point. And so, he is doing that in order for us to be able to accomplish our mission. This should not be seen as something that the administration is asking for because border patrol has been asking for this for over 30 years.

    Sputnik: I remember the uproar when two illegal immigrant children died while in border patrol custody. We also had experts coming online and saying that, perhaps, instances like that could, again help this cause. But then, once the media interest dies down, nothing really happens.

    Sergio A. Tinoco: We've been dealing with this dilemma for three decades already, far more than that.

    READ MORE: ‘Virtual Wall' Already Exists on US-Mexico Border Courtesy of Trump's Approach

    Sputnik: Is there anything at the current moment, perhaps in the current developments, that gives you a certain degree of hope that there might be a shift in the right direction and finally you'll get the attention that you have been calling out for all this time, anything at all?

    Sergio A. Tinoco: We remain hopeful. I myself remain hopeful that something will change, that somebody will finally see the numbers that we are experiencing and say: "Something is happening, they do need help." But with other rhetoric that I continue to hear, especially yesterday as some of the Democratic congressmen's officials were saying that the wall and the whole push for border security from the administration is a vanity project. How can that be said with the numbers that we're experiencing at the moment? 76,000 apprehensions just last month with 40 per cent of those apprehensions being in just one portion of the border — the South Texas region. It's just unfathomable for somebody to see those numbers and to not ignore that we need help.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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