Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued a dire assessment Wednesday of the migration crisis on the southern border, telling a House committee that illegal immigration is “spiraling out of control” and predicting that crisis will “get even worse” in the coming months.
And in a startling revelation, she said Customs and Border Protection is on track to apprehend almost 1 million illegal immigrants at the border this year.
“In February, we saw a 30 percent jump over the previous month, with agents apprehending or encountering nearly 75,000 aliens,” Nielsen told the House Committee on Homeland Security. “This is an 80 percent increase over the same time last year. And I can report today that CBP is forecasting the problem will get even worse this spring as the weather warms up.”
“We want to strengthen legal immigration and welcome more individuals through a merit-based system that enhances our economic vitality and the vibrancy of our diverse nation. We also will continue to uphold our humanitarian ideals,” she said. “But illegal immigration is simply spiraling out of control and threatening public safety and national security.”
Nielsen’s testimony came a day after the Trump administration released figures showing that more than 2,000 migrants are apprehended each day, a total of 268,000 since the beginning of the fiscal year. DHS reports that the Border Patrol is apprehending illegal immigrants at the highest rate since 2007.
“We face a crisis -- a real, serious, and sustained crisis at our borders. We have tens of thousands of illegal aliens arriving at our doorstep every month. We have drugs, criminals, and violence spilling into our country every week,” she said.
Nielsen raised concerns not only about the sheer number of crossings but the specific rise in families and unaccompanied children.
“Over 60 percent of the current flow are family units and unaccompanied alien children, and 60 percent are non-Mexican,” she said.
Figures released by DHS on Tuesday said that apprehensions of family unit aliens and unaccompanied children surged by 338 percent and 54 percent, respectively.
Nielsen predicted disaster if migrant flows escalate: “Our capacity is already severely strained, but these increases will overwhelm the system entirely.”
“This is not a ‘manufactured’ crisis. This is truly an emergency,” she said.