Sex offenders, gang members, wanted felons and unaccompanied children as young as 2 years old are among hundreds of illegal immigrants flooding into the United States near El Paso, Texas, where Border Patrol agents arrested about 800 in the last 24 hours alone.
A group of 112 migrants were taken into custody after approaching the border wall near downtown around midnight, about the same time another 252 were apprehended near a local high school, CBS4 reports.
Within 24-hours about 800 migrants presented themselves at the border in El Paso. Border Patrol agents say some criminals used the cover of the large group to try and sneak into the U.S.
Details: https://t.co/WOv9XihkIe pic.twitter.com/LkGUMhjqVu
— Alyssa Meisner (@AlyssaCBS4) March 7, 2019
The rush continued through Wednesday with smaller groups scuttling through neighborhoods, jumping highways, and turning themselves in at the border wall. Most of the migrants are coming from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and arrive at the U.S. border exhausted, with little food or water, many with young children.
“It has been a constant flow of people,” supervisory U.S. Border Patrol agent Joe Romero said. “So far it’s been a really busy day.”
“We’ve had sexual predators we’ve arrested today. We’ve had gang members. We have all kinds of bad people, people who have been in the United States before with active warrants, trying to sneak in using these people as cover.”
The bad hombres included a twice convicted sex offender who was previously deported, as well as a U.S. citizen and noted gang member with a federal warrant for escape.
Romero explained that smugglers and other criminals use the large groups of migrants as distractions to move people or drugs into the country. The previously deported sex offenders and wanted felon arrested Wednesday attempted to cross as agents processed the large groups, he said.
“They try to draw our agents and create gaps in our coverage,” Romero said.
More food being delivered to migrants across the border. Migrant advocacy groups working on getting the group blankets. pic.twitter.com/FW1hR6b0ua
— Estefanía Seyffert (@EstefSeyffert) March 7, 2019
Illegal immigration advocacy groups, meanwhile, are helping to encourage more migrants with free handouts at the border wall. Videos posted online show Americans doling out sandwiches, chips, granola bars, water, blankets and other supplies through a small opening in the border wall.
Migrant Surge: Border Patrol Apprehend Record Setting 700 Migrants In El Paso.
“They’re not equipped to be spending day’s and nights here on the doorstep of our country, they’re on U.S. Soil and they want to turn themselves in “
⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️https://t.co/oEbjii5JWr@HopeBorder pic.twitter.com/gHzTXTUklc
— Christina Aguayo KVIA ABC-7 (@ChristinaKVIA7) March 7, 2019
“They’re hungry. They haven’t had anything to drink. There’s a couple dozen children with them,” Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope border Institute, told KVIA. “They’re not equipped to be spending days and nights here on the doorstep of our country. They’re on U.S. soil, they want to turn themselves in. They’re waiting for Border Patrol and we want to see them act.”
KVIA reports the large amount of migrants made for a “record-setting day.”
The influx comes as shelters set up to house those detained are running over capacity, in part because of a sharp increase in family groups. Border Patrol told KTSM apprehensions of family groups are up 1,689 percent over last year.
Apprehensions at the border in general have skyrocketed by 434 percent, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleean told the news site.
“The message from the smuggling organizations to parents in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador is clear: If you bring a child you will gain entry into the United States and you will be allowed to stay,” he said.
It seems they’re not wrong.
“To help address this we are taking steps to establish a centralized processing center, CPC, in the El Paso Sector,” he told KTSM. “This will help us protect the health and safety of families and children in custody while streamlining operations and reducing the time that we are holding families and children.”
The CPC will also serve as a free medical center for the illegal immigrants, he said.