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Immigrant children are led by staff in single file between tents at a detention facility next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, US, June 18, 2018. REUTERS
Immigrant children are led by staff in single file between tents at a detention facility next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, June 18, 2018. REUTERS

Migrant arrests at the border: a 'crisis' or negligence?

The Customs and Border Protection Service has released its latest data of arrests at the border. The numbers are alarming.

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The Donald Trump government has carried out the largest wave of migrant arrests in recent months and the shelter system just can’t cope.

The Washington Post reported that "the number of migrant family members arrested for illegally entering the United States shot up 38 percent in August," according to data published by the Customs and Border Protection Service, which has described the situation as a "crisis.”

Although the number of arrests usually increases during the last days of August, these figures are particularly significant as the total number went from 40,011 in July to 46,560 during August.

The Post notes that this increase has followed President Trump's decision to "back off the provision of its zero-tolerance crackdown that separated children from parents in an attempt to deter illegal migration," and officials from the Department of Homeland Security have agreed that the scandal caused by family separation has prompted a new flow of migrants who intend to "bring children as a way to win quick release from government custody and avoid deportation."

"The numbers have continued to increase because this is a well-known avenue to arrive in the United States and be allowed to stay," Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told the media, describing the phenomenon as a "crisis of significant proportions, from a humanitarian perspective and a security perspective."

Although the government initiated a process to reunite separated families, this new wave of arrests aggravates the situation of detained minors while the administration tries to circumvent the judicial mechanisms that prevent it from keeping children and young people under 18 in custody for more than 20 consecutive days.

According to the New York Times, "population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer."

However, contrary to what the government may describe as a "crisis" at the border, the increase is not due to an increase in the flow of children arriving in the country but "a reduction in the number (of children) being released to live with families and other sponsors," suggests information compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services and analyzed by the Times.

The information was delivered to members of Congress and shared with the Times, which concludes that "despite the Trump Administration’s efforts to discourage Central American migrants (from crossing the border without documents), roughly the same number of children are crossing the border as in years past.”

"The big difference now," explained a person familiar with the shelter system, "is that red tape and fear brought on by stricter application of immigration enforcement have discouraged relatives and family friends from coming forward to sponsor children."

This translates into a crisis within another, both created by the negligence of an administration that insists on applying anti-humanitarian measures without calculating the cost or the long-term consequences.

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