Acting US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan told senators on Tuesday that over 300,000 migrant kids were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents this fiscal year. This represents nearly 40% of all migrants apprehended so far this year.
CBP Commissioner Morgan told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday that Border Patrol agents apprehended over 800,000 migrants who illegally crossed the border so far this year. Of those, over 450,000 were Family Unit Aliens and 80,000 were Unaccompanied Alien Children.
"Combined, that’s over 300,000 kids who've entered our custody since October 1st of last year," Morgan testified. "These numbers are staggering, unprecedented and have overwhelmed every aspect of our border and immigration enforcement system."
The commissioner reiterated the previous warnings from Trump Administration and CBP officials about the crisis along the border and the consequences of the mass crossing of migrant families and kids. He once again stressed the significant challenges faced in dealing with their care and processing.
Morgan testified that Border Patrol agents have also carried out over 4,000 rescues of migrants who are placed in life-threatening situations by Mexican cartels and other human smugglers. The CBP commissioner told the story of Border Patrol agents witnessing human smugglers throwing a paraplegic migrant into the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas, in May. The smugglers threw the migrant into the river and he almost immediately began to drown, officials stated in May. Agents already in the water from rescuing a double amputee migrant also thrown in the river by smugglers swam to the distressed migrant while other agents still on the ground jumped in and completed the rescue of the first migrant.
"This is one of over 4,000 rescues performed by CBP this year — with Border Patrol leading the way," the commissioner continued. "This is who the men and women of the US Customs and Border Protection are. They risk their lives every single day to help and protect whoever's in distress."
Addressing allegations by media outlets and some Democrat members of Congress, Morgan said flatly, "The men and women of CBP aren't running concentration camps, making those in our custody drink from toilets, nor are they denying them access to toothbrushes. That's simply not true."
"This is the kind of irresponsible rhetoric they must endure from both the media and even some of our own congressional leaders," he continued. "It’s unjust and does nothing to bring us closer to resolving one of the most divisive that we face in our country."
"Stories of agents saving lives from drowning in the Rio Grande, dying of dehydration in the desert and suffering in stash houses or at the hands of smugglers goes unreported," the commissioner stated. "The demonizing of law enforcement professionals must stop."
"We should be coming together to focus our efforts on the real enemy — the cartels and smugglers who make billions of dollars at the expense of an extremely vulnerable population while exploiting loopholes in our immigration framework to facilitate their operation," Morgan testified.
"Smugglers openly advertise about a safe and legal journey to the US," he explained. "They tell migrants and their families that there's a policy in the US that anyone who arrives with a kid won't be deported and our laws support that perception.
He said that if there's not a meaningful change in US laws, detention facilities will continue to be overwhelmed while Border Patrol agents are diverted from their primary mission. "Smugglers, like the one who threw the paraplegic man in the Rio Grande, they'll continue to profit," he said.
"Congress must acknowledge this is a crisis and pass meaningful legislation to address the current legal framework," Morgan concluded in his opening statement to the committee.