The influx of illegal migrants to US-Mexican border puts such a strain on US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that the agency is struggling to fulfil its functions, The Guardian reports.
CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan has declared an "operational crisis" because of a recent surge in the number of migrants seeking to enter the US. The commissioner called on the Congress to provide solutions, the report says.
McAleenan's comment comes days after Roy Villareal, the new chief in charge of most of Arizona's international border with Mexico, said the coming waves of migrant families are pushing the agency to a "breaking point."
"When you look across the Southwest border, again looking at the system that's in place not being designed to handle this type of migratory flow, it's pushed us to a breaking point," he said, according to AZ Central. "We don't have adequate detention facilities."
US arrests on the Mexican border jumped to 66,450 in February, up 149 percent from a year earlier, while arrests in CBP's El Paso sector, which stretches across New Mexico and much of west Texas, were about eight times higher compared to a year ago, The Guardian reports
Arizona reportedly contains the busiest drug and human trafficking areas along the US-Mexico border, the report says, citing government statistics. According to the statistics, in Fiscal Year 2019, the Tucson Sector in Arizona has seen a 237 percent increase in family unit apprehensions, with only a 1 percent decrease in unaccompanied minor detentions. Family units and unaccompanied minors make up to 60 percent of all detentions across the border, CBP says.
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, said that such large numbers of people being able to cross the border illegally is "a result of what is a near-complete breakdown of border control."
"The smugglers are so brazen now that they are chartering buses to pick up migrants in southern Mexico and bring them directly to the border area to file across and await discovery by the US Border Patrol, knowing that the migrants will be released in just a few hours to go wherever they want to go in the United States," Vaughan said, according to Fox.
While Arizona is on paper as one of the few sectors of the border where a border fortification exists, in reality, most of the fortifications are vehicle barriers which do not prevent people from simply walking across, Fox says.
Earlier this week, the Department of Defense notified the US Congress that it had authorized the transfer of up to $1 billion to construct some 57 miles of "pedestrian fencing" along the border, in direct support of US President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration. However, the decision has been blasted by Democratic lawmakers, in particular by Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA), who said that while the Pentagon has been entrusted with the ability to redirect a certain amount of funds for "additional flexibility to manage day-to-day operations," the decision to redirect this money to build the wall is a "violation of that trust."