Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, released the following statement regarding southwest border security:
In October a total of 46,195 individuals were apprehended between ports of entry on our southwest border, compared with 39,501 in September and 37,048 in August. Within these totals, we have seen corresponding increases in the numbers of unaccompanied children and individuals in families apprehended. We’ve also seen increases in the numbers of those who present themselves at ports of entry along the southwest border seeking asylum.
I have told our border security and immigration enforcement personnel that we must keep pace with this increase. As a result, there are currently about 41,000 individuals in our immigration detention facilities -- typically, the number in immigration detention fluctuates between 31,000 and 34,000 – and I have authorized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to acquire additional detention space for single adults so that those apprehended at the border can be returned to their home countries as soon as possible. We have also engaged with a number of countries to repatriate their citizens more quickly, and they have agreed to do so.
Our borders cannot be open to illegal migration. We must, therefore, enforce the immigration laws consistent with our priorities. Those priorities are public safety and border security. Specifically, we prioritize the deportation of undocumented immigrants who are convicted of serious crimes and those apprehended at the border attempting to enter the country illegally. Recently, I have reiterated to our Enforcement and Removal personnel that they must continue to pursue these enforcement activities.
Those who attempt to enter our country without authorization should know that, consistent with our laws and our values, we must and we will send you back.
Once again, I encourage migrants and their families to pursue the various safe and legal paths available for those in need of humanitarian protection in the United States. Earlier this year, the Government of Costa Rica announced its agreement to enter into a protection transfer arrangement with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration to help address the Central American migration challenge. We’ve also established an in-country referral program in countries of origin in Central America. This will enable vulnerable residents in the region to be considered for refugee protection in the United States after being screened and interviewed by DHS officers. We have also announced expansion of the categories of individuals eligible for participation in our Central American Minors program when accompanied by a qualified child. We encourage use of these programs.
For more information, see the Fact Sheet.