Daily Mail Online: LONDON, England – March saw the most migrant children crossing the border in history, with 18,890 unaccompanied minors being taken into cramped shelters.
The previous record was when around 11,000 children crossed the border in May 2019.
The March numbers provided by Customs and Border Patrol Thursday represented a 100 per cent increase in crossings compared to February.
Overall in March, the CBP encountered mroe than 172,000 people attempting to gain entry along the Southwest border, which represented a 71 per cent increase over February 2021.
The CBP’s acting commissioner Troy Miller pushed that the situation was under control.
‘CBP has experienced an increase in encounters and arrests. This is not new. Encounters have continued to increase since April 2020, and our past experiences have helped us be better prepared for the challenges we face this year,’ Miller said in a statement attached to the new numbers. ‘We are committed to balancing the needs of maintain border security, care for those in our custody and keep the American people and our workforce safe.’
President Joe Biden also tried to characterize the influx as normal seasonal upticks during his late March press conference.
‘It happens every single solitary year. There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March – it happens every year,’ Biden said then.
Migrants are seen getting out of a boat that they took to traverse the Rio Grande River from Mexico into the United States on Wednesday
A group of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrives at a bus terminal in the US after crossing the Rio Grande river from Mexico
Families are pouring into the US from Mexico on a daily basis and have pushed crossings up to their highest level in 15 years.
A shocking video of an abandoned migrant boy telling border agents he feared he would be kidnapped and footage of Ecuadorian sisters, aged three and five, being dropped over the wall have exposed the dire situation.
The top House Republican, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said Wednesday that he was concerned that among those captures were two Yemeni nationals on a terror watchlist.
McCarthy told Fox News that he requested a classified briefing from the FBI and CIA on the matter and said Harris should attend.
‘I know she hasn’t been to the border,’ McCarthy told Fox. ‘I don’t know if she’s ever been briefing on this, but I think it’d be important that all leaders, because this isn’t about Republican or Democrat, this is about the security of our nation. And everybody should be making sure our nation is secure.’
McCarthy’s call for Harris to finally address the crisis came as more images emerged of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador crossing the Rio Grande and packing shelters in Texas.
Harris hasn’t made a border trip in the 15 days since she was charged with dealing with the root causes of the immigration crisis – a role President Joe Biden described as dealing with the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico, in an attempt to stem the flow.
‘Closed press? Remember when President Biden promised transparency?’ Republican Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted about the announcement.
Biden also hasn’t yet traveled to the southern border.
The Biden administration has tried to push that they’re persuing a more human border policy than the administration of former President Donald Trump.
Trump’s policies created children being separated from their families, with The New York Times reporting Thursday that the parents of 445 migrant children cannot be found.
The former president had also warned of ‘terrorists’ coming over the US-Mexico border during his time in office.
We have terrorists coming through the southern border because they find that’s probably the easiest place to come through. They drive right in and they make a left,’ Trump warned in January 2019.
On Monday, Customs and Border Patrol announced that two unnamed Yemeni men on the terror watch list – one 33, the other 26 – had been detained over the last three months in the Calexico area of California.
‘So we know people on the terrorist watch list are coming into America,’ McCarthy said, pointing to the announcement. ‘How are they coming in? How many do we assume go through that we did not catch? Why were they on the watch list? What were they doing coming into the country? Do we have any intel based upon what did they have planned once they entered the country? Who were they going to meet up with?’
McCarthy said he also requested the FBI-CIA briefing would be shared with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, both Democrats, and his Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The captures were made by CBP agents assigned to the El Centro Station.
CBP said in a statement on Monday that the two men were on a U.S. government watchlist for terrorism suspects, and were also named on a ‘no-fly’ list.
‘Part of the Border Patrol’s mission states we will protect the country from terrorists,’ said Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino.
‘These apprehensions at our border illustrates the importance of our mission and how we can never stop being vigilant in our everyday mission to protect this great country.’
The news was seized upon by Republicans, who are using the current surge in migrant arrivals to attack Joe Biden, and who have always warned that terrorists could be among those entering illegally and evading detection.
Additionally, an El Salvadorean gang member was among the migrants detained by the Border Patrol in the early hours of Wednesday.
The unnamed 28-year-old was described by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as ‘a documented MS-13 gang member,’ Fox News reported.
A group from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are seen crossing the Rio Grande River into the United States on Wednesday
Migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are seen in a border facility on Wednesday
A group of migrants get off a raft that they used to travel across the Rio Grande River from Mexico into Roma, Texas
A woman and a child are lifted out of a raft after it gets to the United States from Mexico on Wednesday
The gang was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s, and then mixed with California prison gang culture and was exported to El Salvador. There are currently believed to be around 10,000 MS-13 members in the United States, out of 1.4 million known gang members in the country.
Former President Donald Trump described the group, known for its savagery, as ‘animals’ and frequently referenced them when discussing migration.
Migrants have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in higher numbers over the past few months, including over 170,000 people in March alone, the largest single-month total in well over a decade.
A large number are unaccompanied minors, which has forced the administration to open its tenth temporary housing facility to accommodate these young arrivals.
The vast majority of adults are immediately sent back to Mexico.
The border patrol say they are currently detaining around 5,000 people a day.
The U.S. government does not release data on terrorist detentions along the border with Mexico: in 2018 the figure was given as six by Axios, and around a dozen by CNN.
In January 2018, a joint report by the Homeland Security and Justice departments stated that Homeland Security had 2,554 ‘encounters’ worldwide with people on a watch list who were trying to travel to the U.S.
Of them, 2,170 were trying to come by air, with 335 by land and the rest by sea.
In 2019, Trump declared during a Rose Garden speech: ‘We have terrorists coming through the southern border because they find that’s probably the easiest place to come through. They drive right in and they make a left.’
Todd Bensman, an analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors less immigration and stronger defenses against terrorist infiltration, estimated in 2019 that around 20 terrorist suspects are detained at the U.S.-Mexico border every year.
The first suspect, aged 33, was apprehended January 29 approximately at 1:10am local time after he tried to cross the border illegally about three miles west from the Calexico Port of Entry.
Agents discovered a cellular phone sim card hidden inside the insole of his shoe.
A second individual, 26, was picked up by agents on March 30 at approximately 11:30pm.
A migrant woman holds a young child in her arms after crossing the Rio Grande
A CBP spokesperson contacted by DailyMail.com declined to provide the names of the men.
Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, wracked by decades of civil war, is described by UN as suffering from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Four million people have been forced from their homes.
A group of Republican lawmakers that visited the border in El Paso, Texas, in March said border agents told them during the trip that some people caught crossing the border were on a U.S. terrorism watchlist.
McCarthy traveled to the southern border March 15 and told reporters that after meeting with Border Patrol agents, he had learned that individuals with links to terror organizations were rushing the border.
‘It’s not just people from Mexico or Honduras or El Salvador,’ he said.
‘They’re now finding people from Yemen, Iran, Turkey. People on the terrorist watch list they are catching, and they’re rushing in all at once.’
Republicans have criticized Biden for easing some restrictions put in place by the former president as the number of border crossings has risen in recent months.
The watchlist is maintained by the FBI Terrorism Screening Center.
The list contains ‘the identities of those who are known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities,’ according to the FBI.
Overall, few migrants caught crossing the southern border match people on the FBI’s terror watchlist, a U.S. official told Reuters.
The libertarian CATO Institute said that from 1975 through 2017, seven people who entered the U.S. illegally from ‘special interest’ countries — states tied at least loosely to terrorism — were convicted of planning attacks on U.S. soil.
None crossed from Mexico. They came from Canada or jumped ship in U.S. ports, and all before special interest countries were classified as such.
The plots were foiled and no one was hurt.
The only known terrorists who crossed illegally from Mexico in those decades were three ethnic Albanians from Macedonia who came as children with their parents in 1984 and, in their 20s, were arrested in the foiled plot to attack the Fort Dix, New Jersey, Army base in 2007, the CATO study found. They were not from a special-interest country.
Migrants are seen in border facilities, with one man charging his phone, on Wednesday
On Wednesday the White House defended Vice President Kamala Harris for having not yet visited the border, which she is supposedly overseeing.
During Wednesday’s briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the vice president’s recent travel to Chicago, as opposed to the southern border.
‘She hasn’t visited the border or Central America or spoken with leaders of El Salvador or Honduras,’ New York Post reporter Steven Nelson pointed out to Psaki. ‘She was traveling this week, took time to visit a bakery in Chicago. I’m wondering, is she still working on this and can you address the perception that she’s sort of quietly backing off while Secretary Mayorkas is pursuing some Trump-era policies?’
While in the Windy City, Harris visited a local bakery.
‘I would say the vice president was visiting Chicago to talk about COVID and the importance of communities getting the vaccine when it is available and accessible to them,’ Psaki explained.
‘While she was there, like many Americans, she got a snack. I think she’s allowed to do that.’
Ecuadorian sisters, aged 3 and 5, dumped over the 14ft high Mexico-US border wall by smugglers are to be reunited with their parents living in New York City
Two Ecuadorian girls who were abruptly dumped over a steel barrier at the Mexico-United States border could soon be reunited with their parents in New York City, an official with Consulate of Ecuador in Houston told DailyMail.com on Wednesday.
Surveillance video footage released by Border Patrol showed the moment on March 30 when a human smuggler dropped Yareli, three, and her five-year-old sister Yasmina over the 14-foot high border wall in New Mexico last Tuesday.
Another smuggler was waiting on the American side to catch the girls, who were then tossed to the ground. Both smugglers then fled, abandoning the children.
The surveillance camera operator immediately alerted Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station agents and directed them to the remote location.
The girls’ mother, Yolanda Macas Tene, and father, Diego Vacacela Aguilar, had left their Ecuadorean home not long before, relatives said, and were awaiting their daughters in New York City.
El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez provides snacks to the two girls from Ecuador who were abandoned by human smugglers and dropped over a 14-foot high border wall in New Mexico last Tuesday. An official with the Consulate of Ecuador in Houston told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that the children will be reunited with their parents, who reside in New York
Their paternal grandfather, Lauro Vacacela, told Telemundo from the family’s hometown of Jaboncillo that the couple were desperate to be reunited with their children.
‘Their parents really wanted to be with them, and the mother was suffering immensely, so they sent for them,’ he said.
The girls had lived with Vacacela, and their brightly-painted pink bedroom still had all their toys and clothes.
Vacacela did not know how the girls arrived at the border, or how much was paid to the people traffickers, known as ‘coyotes’.
Asked if he was concerned, he replied: ‘Yes, it can be rather risky, you could say.’