McALLEN — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials confirmed Tuesday that they will be releasing immigrant families in Rio Grande Valley sector due to a lack of capacity.
Citing limited space at their processing centers, and subsequent safety concerns for U.S. Border Patrol agents and migrants held at the facilities, the agency said it would begin to release the families held in the RGV sector with a notice to appear, as opposed to an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility, according to a CBP spokesperson.
“CBP is committed to effectively utilizing our resources to support border security operations and ongoing humanitarian efforts,” the spokesperson stated in a release. “The current increase in RGV apprehensions has resulted in the limited availability of space in the RGV central processing center and stations. To mitigate risks to both officer safety and vulnerable populations under these circumstances, and due to limited bed space, CBP will begin releasing families in the RGV Sector with a (notice to appear or own recognizance).”
The release went on to state that the measures are “temporary,” and CBP officials will continue to “coordinate with state and local stakeholders and non-governmental organizations.”
In recent weeks Border Patrol and CBP officials have made the record-number of apprehensions of families public.
On March 12, Border Patrol stated in a news release that agents took nearly 300 undocumented persons into custody and transported them to a local detention center, where they were set to be processed.
In all, “Border Patrol agents have arrested more than 1,000 undocumented persons within the last 24 hours,” last week’s news release stated.
Last month, Border Patrol agents in the RGV sector apprehended more than 14,000 families and more than 2,900 unaccompanied children.
The agency reported that in February of fiscal year 2019, there were a total of 66,450 apprehensions at the southwest border — 36,174 consisting of families and 6,825 unaccompanied minors.
Of that 66,450 figure, the RGV sector accounted for 25,355 of those total apprehensions, 14,448 families and 2,904 unaccompanied children, according to the agency’s website.
In fiscal year 2018, Border Patrol recorded 396,579 total apprehensions between ports of entry on the southwest border, an increase of over 2017’s fiscal year apprehensions of 303,916, according to the agency’s website.
The 396,579 total apprehensions on the southwest border is still nowhere near the number of apprehensions reported almost 20 years ago, when Border Patrol officials recorded 1,516,680 apprehensions in fiscal year 1998.