The union that represents U.S. Border Patrol agents said Wednesday that its officers are seeing an increase in Central American migrants attempting to cross the border into the United States, a spokesman reportedly told WOAI, a San Antonio radio station. Shawn Moran of the National Border Patrol Council said that agents have seen an uptick and have begun catching more people -- largely women, children and unaccompanied minors -- attempting to enter Texas.
"Just the other day, in an hour, they had caught 70 women and children," Moran said, according to WOAI. Moran told the radio station that the Central American undocumented immigrants are simply desperate to enter the United States and are usually detained after heading for the nearest Border Patrol station. The women and their children can then wait for their court date in the United States, Moran said. "If you can stay in this country for several years awaiting some kind out outcome, why wouldn't you try to get here?" he said.
A surge of Central American migrants flooded the United States' southern border last summer. A crisis ensued when the stretched Border Patrol could not handle the estimated 68,000 unaccompanied children who reportedly illegally crossed into the U.S., largely from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. President Barack Obama has since taken steps -- including an ad campaign, additional detention centers and expedited deportations -- to attempt to slow the crisis.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has said the number of illegal migrants crossing the border has dropped significantly and that the U.S. was on pace to see the lowest such total since 1972. "It's now much harder to cross our border illegally and evade capture than it used to be, and people know that," Johnson said during a speech at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy on Monday in Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Johnson said the number of apprehensions -- a barometer for total crossing attempts -- was 213,145 so far this fiscal year. Officials said in late April that they did not expect a repeat of 2014's surge.