EDINBURG, Texas – Border Patrol agents from Arizona, California, and elsewhere will be re-deployed to South Texas to help process an increase in illegal immigration in the region according to federal officials.
Roughly 150 agents from Tucson and San Diego will be sent to the Rio Grande Valley, and agents working other areas of Texas will join them, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement reported by Fox News.
Help is needed screening and processing unaccompanied children and family groups trying to immigrate.
Hundreds of thousands of people have sought asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border in the last two years, and the majority are Central American families who often turn themselves in as opposed to mostly Mexican men trying to evade capture, according to a federal report obtained last month by The Associated Press and included in this report.
Since 2014, the Rio Grande Valley has led the nation with the most apprehensions of immigrants entering the U.S. illegally when the number peaked at 170,000, nearly triple the amount from the 2013. Before 2012, there were fewer than 30,000 per year.
Both civic and private organization leaders in South Texas have said they cannot keep pace with the volume of people needing assistance. For instance, one church support center helped 5,600 immigrants alone.
These groups have spent nearly $1 million over two years to provide showers, tents, and basic human needs, McAllen, Texas Mayor Jim Darling told The Monitor newspaper.
Fox News reported U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement last week there are about 41,000 people being held in U.S. immigration detention facilities. The number normally fluctuates between 31,000 and 34,000, he said.
“Our borders cannot be open to illegal migration,” Johnson said. “We must, therefore, enforce the immigration laws consistent with our priorities. Those priorities are public safety and border security. Specifically, we prioritize the deportation of undocumented immigrants who are convicted of serious crimes and those apprehended at the border attempting to enter the country illegally.”