As Congress and the White House tried negotiating border security funding, migration only seemed to get worse with thousands approaching the United States from Central America.
While speaking to Congress on Tuesday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan revealed just how bad the migrant crisis had become.
McAleenan, according to CNSNews.com, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that more than a thousand migrants tried to cross the border on Dec. 3. On that same day, CBP saw its highest number of arrivals “in years” with 3,029 illegal entries.
Family units also reached a projected, record high, McAleenan revealed, with more than 1,070 family members arriving on a consistent basis.
“To put this in perspective, we’ll more than double last year’s record number of family units at this rate,” he said.
Watch his hearing below:
Those numbers seemed to bolster a concern that IJR already noted — southern border arrests spiked to the highest point in President Donald Trump’s presidency in November.
Generally considered an indicator for illegal border crossings, arrests rose 78 percent from the previous year.
During his testimony, McAleenan refuted the idea that the United States wasn’t facing a “crisis”:
“I’ve heard a number of commentators observe that even at these levels, the numbers we are seeing are lower than historical peaks and as a result, there suggests that we are seeing at the borders today is not a crisis. I fundamentally disagree with this assessment. From the experience of our agents and officers on the ground, it is indeed both a border security and a humanitarian crisis.”
He also shed light on the immigrant’s origins, saying that immigration from Mexico was at historically low levels. “The majority of illegal border crossings now come from three countries in Central America: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador,” he said.
“Central America has now exceeded Mexican migration four out of the last five years and reached 70 percent of crossings last month.”
His testimony came just after the president approved a spending measure that kept the government open but only for another two weeks.
As the latest budget deadline rapidly approaches, Trump made it clear that he was willing to shut down the government if Congressional Democrats didn’t provide adequate funding for a border wall.
In recent weeks, Trump has ramped up his calls for border security and even went as far as threatening to halt the flow of asylum admissions.
As McAleenan indicated, the United States’ asylum system represented a significant security risk as many asylum claims turn out to be invalid in immigration proceedings.
“These weaknesses in our laws now represent the most significant factors impacting border security,” he said, “and they include the asylum gap where approximately 80 percent of individuals meet the initial credible fear bar in the asylum process while only 10 to 20 percent are found to have valid asylum claims at the end of their immigration court proceedings.”
As IJR previously reported, many of those migrants slipped through the cracks and stayed in the United States, as only 31 percent returned for their immigration proceedings.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.