McALLEN, Texas (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol has detained fewer unaccompanied children entering South Texas illegally in the past 10 days, agency officials said Thursday.
In recent months, the Border Patrol's facilities in South Texas have been overwhelmed by a surge in the number of children entering the country without their parents. More than 57,000 children have been arrested since October, more than double the number compared to a year earlier.
The Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector Chief Kevin Oaks made the comment about declining child arrests following a media tour of a new processing facility for them in McAllen. The 55,000-square-foot converted warehouse is scheduled to open Friday and temporarily house as many as 1,000 children until they can be turned over to the Health and Human Services Department and sent to shelters.
"We arrested 80 juveniles yesterday, so within the last 10 days we've seen a decrease in the number of juveniles arrested," Oaks said. Later, Roel Rodriguez, the agent who will head the new processing facility, said that daily arrest tally was down from 200 to 300 unaccompanied children at the surge's height.
Children arrested after entering the U.S. without their parents posed a challenge for the Border Patrol. Its stations are equipped only with simple holding cells and not intended for extended stays. When agents began arresting more children than could be quickly processed they backed up stations in the Rio Grande Valley, forcing the agency to bus and fly detainees to other parts of Texas and out of state.
Oaks' comments jibe with a general drop in total immigrant arrests in South Texas in the final week of June. The Border Patrol has not released such data for July, but weekly arrest totals included in law enforcement intelligence reports obtained by The Associated Press in May and June show that arrests dropped in the final week of June to a level not seen since mid-May. Weekly arrest totals in the Rio Grande Valley during those months peaked in mid-June at more than 9,000. The factors contributing to the drop are unclear and it is unknown if it will continue.
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