A U.S Customs and Border Protection officer checks the vehicle of a passenger crossing from Mexico to the United States at the San Ysidro port of entry. (Donna Burton/Customs and Border Protection)

Border Traffic Follows Historical Trend as Senate Prepares to Take Up Immigration

After border apprehension numbers climbed at the end of last year, Customs and Border Protection reported a 12 percent month-to-month decrease in southern border captures in the first month of 2018.

The Border Patrol noted, however, that January traditionally is a month of decreased entry attempts from Mexico and arrests.

A total of 25,980 individuals were apprehended last month, including 3,227 unaccompanied alien children and 5,656 family units. During this period, 9,842 people who tried to come through a point of entry were deemed inadmissible.

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

“DHS front-line personnel are required to release tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children and illegal family units into the United States each year due to current loopholes in our immigration laws,” DHS Acting Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement responding to the report. “Once again, this month we saw an unacceptable number of UACs and family units flood our border because of these catch-and-release loopholes.”

Houlton said Congress “must act to close these legal loopholes that have created incentives for illegal immigrants and are being exploited by dangerous transnational criminal organizations like MS-13.”

“The administration will continue to work with Congress to pass its responsible, fair and pro-American immigration framework that provides funding for the border wall system, ends chain migration and the diversity visa lottery, and creates a permanent solution for DACA,” he added.

The Senate will vote later today on a two-year budget deal that averts a shutdown and omits any immigration issues. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he’d fulfill a promise he made at the end of the last shutdown: that if a budget agreement was passed on time, he’d bring debate to the floor on fixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA currently covers some 800,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children; President Trump canceled the program and gave Congress until March 5 to find a way to save the DACA beneficiaries from deportation.

“As I’ve said publicly many times, our upcoming debate on DACA, border security, and other issues will be a process that is fair to all sides. The bill I move to, which will not have underlying immigration text, will have an amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

“The amendment process will be fair to all sides, allowing the sides to alternate proposals for consideration and for votes,” he added. “While I obviously cannot guarantee any outcomes, let alone supermajority support, I can ensure the process is fair to all sides. And that is what I intend to do.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) delivered an eight-hour-plus defense of DACA on the House floor Wednesday, setting a record for the longest continuous House speech. She was able to hold the floor by using leadership’s rarely invoked “magic” minutes, and filled the time by reading stories of young immigrants.

“This morning, we took a measure of our caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect DREAMers in the House,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support.”

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a weekly columnist for the New York Observer and a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and Washington Bureau Chief for PJ Media. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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