A surge of migrants trying to cross the southern border has overwhelmed American Customs and Border Protection agents along San Diego’s border with Mexico and is creating a logistics nightmare for agents as they try to process the thousands of people trying to enter the country each day.
Starting this week, the agency is releasing nearly 80 migrants a day at San Ysidro Port of Entry into El Centro, California, as agents there process a greater influx of migrants than is expected in any one night over the next several weeks.
Until this week, the agency had been processing only 20 to 30 migrants a day out of San Ysidro through El Centro.
On Tuesday night, CBP crews at the port of entry processed 51 migrants. Another 50 arrived that night in El Centro. In the next night, Thursday, 58 were processed at San Ysidro and another 50 came through the neighboring port. In the next few days, it is estimated that CBP workers at El Centro will process 85 migrants a day.
The agency is releasing more migrants out of El Centro to relieve the strain on the El Paso, Texas, and Laredo, Texas, ports of entry.
The flow of migrants at El Paso and Laredo increased last month after a major fire erupted near San Diego at the privately operated Tijuana Stadium, where migrants sheltering in one of the soccer fields began to rest and collect bottles of water. On the same day as the fire, the Trump administration announced that migrants who cross the border illegally will not be released and will face criminal prosecution. That prompted migrants to wait longer and longer in Mexico to see how long it would take to try crossing illegally again.
During the government shutdown, border agents and their agents’ families received $10 million in assistance to help them deal with an influx of migrants and Border Patrol agents were being recalled to work.
The number of migrant families crossing into the U.S. each month to seek asylum surged in February, rising to 10,566 families from 4,503 the previous month. A record number of unaccompanied children — 11,595 — were apprehended at the border.
CBP agents were also temporarily called back for short-term duty in February when the Mexican government canceled an “interdiction training course” for agents and guides near the Rio Grande Valley. CBP said the U.S. consulate in Nuevo Laredo asked the agency to hire its local agents to help staff the class.