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U.S. Border Patrol chief addresses migrant surge

4 months 1 week 4 hours ago Friday, March 26 2021 Mar 26, 2021 March 26, 2021 5:56 PM March 26, 2021 in News - Local

U.S. Border Patrol agents say they apprehended more than 380,000 migrants crossing through the southwest border last month – and their deputy chief says he doesn't see those numbers dropping anytime soon.

"In 2019 when I was the deputy chief and acting chief in Del Rio and RGV you know we had over 859,000 encounters. I fully expect us to surpass that this fiscal year,” U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz said. 

This time, migrants are traveling in the midst of a pandemic - forcing agents to make adjustments both operationally and administratively.

"We have addressed these surges by pushing resources, taking advantage of our technology, in some cases infrastructure, to help support some of those surges and efforts,” Ortiz said.

According to Ortiz, 51% migrants that Border Patrol agents encounter are from Central American countries, adding that there is also an uptick in people from Ecuador and Brazil and Cuba.

Ortiz said border patrol agents are encountering more families and unaccompanied children, which comes with its own set of unique challenges since they now have to coordinate with other agencies to get the children reunited with a relative – or send them back to their home country.

Ortiz said it’s getting harder to transfer unaccompanied children within the mandated 72 hour period when - on any given day – border patrol may have around 9,000 people in custody. 

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