Firsthand look at apprehension of families at southwest US border

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – Big groups of people continue to come to the southwest U.S. border, according to the latest statistics released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

About 12,800 family units were apprehended in August, a 38 percent increase in the number of apprehensions in July, which was 9,247. 

The latest numbers also show that more than 90,000 immigrants came as part of families crossing the southwest border illegally in the last 11 months.

KSAT 12's Tiffany Huertas saw firsthand the groups of people making their way into the U.S. during a ride-along.

During the ride-along, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Marcelino Medina darted through spiny bushes and began searching for a group of people crossing the border illegally.

"Just looking at the tracks we've seen earlier, they broke up the group over here and they ran this way," Medina said. 

A helicopter and a K-9 were brought in to help with the search, but after more than 30 minutes of searching, agents had no luck. 

Medina got a call about another group spotted nearby. 

A woman named Sandra, who traveled more than 1,600 miles from El Salvador, said she escaped the violence and came for a better future for her son. 

One call after another, groups of families were apprehended. 

A man named Jose had been traveling with his two sons from El Salvador. He said he was afraid of the gangs. He said he paid a group of people for a chance to cross the Rio Grande River on a raft. 

"This group of 10 is actually kind of small compared to what we normally see," Medina said. 

During another call, Huertas met a woman named Areli, who traveled for a month with her 7-year old daughter and 2-year old son, from Honduras. 

Areli said she has faith in God and knows everything will work out. 

"When we are able to get that infrastructure, when we are able to get the advancement in technology, the extra manpower down here, we will see a change in the Rio Grande Valley sector," Medina said. 

DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton released the following statement:

"August Southwest Border Migration numbers show a clear indicator that the migration flows are responding to gaps in our nation’s legal framework.  While the overall numbers are consistent with an expected seasonal increase, the number of family units along the Southwest border increased 38 percent – 3,500 more than July and the highest August on record.  Smugglers and traffickers understand our broken immigration laws better than most and know that if a family unit illegally enters the U.S. they are likely to be released into the interior.  Specifically, DHS is required to release families entering the country illegally within 20 days of apprehension.

"We know that the vast majority of family units who have been released, despite having no right to remain in any legal status, fail to ever depart or be removed.  Through the third quarter of FY 2018, only 1.4 percent of family units have been repatriated to their home country from noncontiguous countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

"Secretary Nielsen and this Administration are committed to using all resources available to gain operational control of the U.S. border, to uphold our nation’s immigration laws as passed by Congress, and to work with Congress to fix this broken system."

Southwest Border Family Apprehensions Statistics

Data obtained from Customs and Border Protection website.

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