A "tent city" in Tornillo, Texas, holds thousands of migrant children. File Photo by Larry W. Smith/EPA-EFE
Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A record number of family members were apprehended at the U.S. border with Mexico in September, Customs and Border Patrol data released Tuesday indicates.
CPB said 16,658 family members were apprehended, a record high for a single month. The figure is comparable to numbers seen in 2014 during a surge in unaccompanied minors. That year there were 16,330 family apprehensions in June and in December 2016 there were 16,139.
The report showed there were 396,579 apprehensions for fiscal year 2018, up 30.5 percent from fiscal year 2017.
Fiscal year 2018 apprehensions included 107,212 family members, 50,036 unaccompanied minors and 239,331 single adults. The number of family members or minors to cross in fiscal year 2018 represented about 40 percent of all apprehensions or inadmissible border crossers.
The demographics of people crossing the border have changed over the past decade with more families and unaccompanied minors. A senior administration official told reporters Tuesday that in 2000, 98 percent of apprehensions were single adults from Mexico, who could be detained until they were sent back to their home country.
Minors, however, must be released within 72 hours under the Trafficking Victims Protections Reauthorization Act and the Flores Settlement Agreement, meaning families often are released into the general population until a future court date.
Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego projected earlier this month that the CPB figures would show about 370,000 people were apprehended at the southwestern border during fiscal year 2018.
"We're down to a quarter from peak," Everard Meade, director of the Trans-Border Institute, told UPI. "There has been a steep downward trend for the last 15 years or more. It's transcended a conservative eight-year administration and a Democratic administration for eight years. It is bigger than politics. This is not about [President Donald] Trump."
Border apprehensions reached a peak of 1.6 million in 2000 and have been on a decline, reaching a low of 327,577 since then.
There is "definitely no 'invasion.' Or crisis," Julia Gelatt, senior policy analyst at Migration Policy Institute, said of the numbers released Tuesday. "But family unit apprehensions are continuing to grow. U.S. border management policies built in an era of high flows of single adults need to catch up to new realities."
Patrick Timmons contributed to this report.