U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants, including a minor (16), from Mexico on September 10, 2019 in Mission, Texas.
John Moore—Getty Images
By Jasmine Aguilera
October 8, 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended nearly one million migrants at the southern border with Mexico in fiscal year 2019, which ended in September, according to newly released figures by the agency — 88% higher than apprehensions in 2018.

“These numbers are numbers that no immigration system in the world is designed to handle, including ours,” CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters at a Tuesday White House press briefing. The number of family units who were apprehended more than tripled any previous fiscal year on record, Morgan added. Family units made up about 458,000 of the apprehensions. An additional roughly 280,000 were single adults, and about 73,000 were unaccompanied children.

Apprehensions peaked in May at more than 144,000. By August, that figure declined to about 64,000. However, more people were apprehended in August than any previous August in the last five years. Just over 52,000 migrants were apprehended in September alone.

Morgan blamed “loopholes” in the U.S. immigration system as the pull-factor for migrants, most from Central America where extreme gang violence is rampant. Many now find themselves waiting in Mexico under the Trump Administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols. Other actions by the administration, such as implementing a “safe third country” policy that requires asylum seekers to first claim asylum at a different country en route to the U.S., have created an uncertain future for the Central American migrants. Some such policies have faced legal challenges and blocks.

The current daily rate of apprehensions is 17,000, which Morgan described as still “unacceptable.” Morgan added CBP estimated there is an additional 150,000 people who “eluded” apprehension.

During the briefing Morgan also discussed the border wall, and said 71 miles of new “wall system” has been installed in the Rio Grande Valley replacing the previous barriers.

Write to Jasmine Aguilera at jasmine.aguilera@time.com.

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