Amid President Donald Trump's warnings about a 'caravan' of illegal immigrants in far southern Mexico, the Trump Administration reported Tuesday that the number of people apprehended while illegally crossing the southern border continued to spike in the month of September, again approaching some of the highest numbers since Mr. Trump took office.
The Department of Homeland Security reported that 50,568 people were apprehended in September, up dramatically from the 31,280 in September of 2017.
September's figures rounded out the numbers for Fiscal Year 2018, as 521,090 were apprehended at the border, almost equaling the highest number from the Obama Administration in 2016. That was up from 415,517 in FY 2017.
Senior Administration officials told reporters on a conference call that most of those coming to the U.S. now are from Central America, and because of current immigration laws, those people cannot be immediately sent home, as is required with those picked up who are from Mexico.
"The unique aspect of the border crisis today is that they are being apprehended, but they cannot be removed," said one senior administration official, referring to the different rules for handling people from Mexico versus Central American nations.
The steady increase in immigration numbers is a marked change from 2017 when border apprehensions plummeted during the first months of the Trump Administration to as low as 15,798 in April of 2017 - the President declared that was because of his get-tough policies on the border.
But since then, the numbers have steadily increased, going up 26 percent from a year ago.
"This is the highest September ever for Border Patrol apprehensions of family units," said one senior official, telling reporters it was up 38 percent from the previous high in 2016.
"Republicans think that the system should be changed immediately," another senior White House official said to reporters. "Democrats don't."
Officials say the numbers also show an increasing number of not only family units, but also 'unaccompanied children,' many of whom are also making the trek from Central American nations like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
On Monday, the President threatened to withhold foreign aid to those three nations because of the caravan of people making their way toward the U.S. southern border, as he has also blamed Democrats for problems on the border.
"Today’s Democrat Party would rather protect criminal aliens than AMERICAN CITIZENS," the President tweeted on Monday night after a campaign rally in Texas.
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