The administration of US President Donald Trump has detained record number of migrants traveling in families at the US border with Mexico in October, taking into custody over 20,000 citizens of Central American countries on their way to enter the US, new official data shows.
US Border Patrol arrested a total of 23,121 people last month, The New York Times reported, citing the latest figures by the US Customs and Border Protection agency..
In comparison, nearly 16,658 people in families were apprehended at the US-Mexico border throughout September, prompting the White House to warn that the increase in migrant inflow could cause an unprecedented crisis and threaten national security.
The overall number of migrants apprehended at border hit 50,975, a record high.
The increase was reported hours after the Trump administration unveiled new measures that made it more difficult for immigrants to seek asylum in the US.
In a proclamation issued Friday, the Trump administration said all migrants who tried to enter the US at the southwest border would be denied asylum unless they went through official American ports of entry.
The new measures follow Trump’s decision to deploy 5,600 active-duty soldiers to the border in order to repel a 6,000-strong caravan of migrants which is currently moving through Mexico toward the American border.
Trump has received heat for calling the migrants “invaders” while in reality nearly all of the migrants are fleeing poverty and violence in countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Trump has threatened to cut aide to those countries for their failure to stop the wave.
While many of the migrants have expressed willingness to seek asylum in the United States, it is not clear how many of them will reach the border as the group is still weeks away and keeps shrinking as it moves forward.
The Trump administration has already stirred international criticism for cruel treatment of migrant families at the border by separating migrant children from the parents and sending them to separate detention centers.
The increase in migrants is likely to put more pressure on US Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, whose job security is seen as increasingly vulnerable. According to various reports, Trump has repeatedly accused Nielsen of failing to stop illegal immigration.
Trump’s new measures against migration have been met with strong criticism. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has even filed a lawsuit to stop the changes.
The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in San Francisco, states that the new measures were “in direct violation of Congress’s clear command that manner of entry cannot constitute a categorical asylum bar.”
It also accused Trump of moving ahead “without the required procedural steps and without good cause for immediately putting the rule into effect.”