The Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy that tore apart families and caused unconscionable harm to separated children ended in September with a tentative agreement that gave separated families a chance to apply for political asylum in the US.
About 17,000 people have tried to cross the southwest border of the US, hitting a record level in the three months since President Trump halted family separations at the border.
In September, the border patrol detained 16,658 migrants traveling with their families, the biggest one-month total on record and an 80% rise from July, according to The Washington Post, citing unpublished Department of Homeland Security statistics.
Large groups of family members from Central America have traversed many miles on their way to turn themselves in with asylum petitions, fearing a return to their home countries.
The families are usually assigned a court date and released from custody, but the immigration proceedings themselves can take years.
The previous record was set in August with 12,774 people in family units arrested at the border.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss with Mexico ways of making it more difficult for Central American immigrants to cross the country’s southern border, inserting the issue into ongoing trade negotiations.
On October 17, Trump tweeted that Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador had been told economic aid would be withheld should citizens from their respective countries or others be permitted to pass through their territory in an attempt to make it to the US-Mexico border.
The Trump administration separated children from thousands of families that were caught illegally crossing the US-Mexican border this spring, before halting the policy.
More than 107,000 migrants with families were arrested during fiscal year 2018 breaking the previous high of 77,857 set in 2016.