Immigration Policy
July 22, 2019
Can U.S. officials restore order at the Southern border?

The number of Central American migrant families seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged to historic levels, leading to overcrowding at migrant detention centers and reports of hungry children living in filthy conditions at border stations. President Trump’s critics blame his immigration policies, including his efforts to make it more difficult for migrants to win asylum. The president counters that Democratic lawmakers are at fault for refusing to close loopholes in immigration law that he says allow many migrants to enter the country without proper vetting. Administration officials have taken aggressive steps to deter migrants from traveling to the border, largely by making it harder for them to win asylum, but courts have blocked some of those efforts.

Yvonne Nieves of El Paso, Texas, demonstrates on June 27 in front of a U.S. Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, where lawyers said detained migrant children were being held in filthy conditions. Border Patrol officials disputed their account. (Getty Images/Mario Tama) Yvonne Nieves of El Paso, Texas, demonstrates on June 27 in front of a U.S. Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, where lawyers said detained migrant children were being held in filthy conditions. Border Patrol officials disputed their account. (Getty Images/Mario Tama)

Hispanic migrants, mostly from Central America, continue to overwhelm U.S. immigration facilities along the border with Mexico, creating what federal officials describe as a humanitarian and border security crisis. 1

In June, immigration officials took 104,334 migrants into custody at the border, marking the fourth consecutive month the number has topped 100,000. The number of migrants detained in June was 28 percent below the 144,278 taken into custody in May, which U.S. officials said reflects efforts by Mexico to crack down on northward migration from Central America. May’s number was the highest monthly total since March 2006. It encompassed 132,887 migrants who crossed the border without documents and 11,391 deemed inadmissible at a U.S. port of entry. Honduran and Guatemalan families with children led the surge. 2

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