New Mexico sees spike in Central American families crossing border - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico sees spike in Central American families crossing border

The border fence between Sunland Park and Anapra, Mexico, was extended farther into New Mexico this year as part of scheduled maintenance and improvements to border infrastructure. (Angela Kocherga/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

SUNLAND PARK – The number of people caught crossing the southwest border is at its lowest point in more than four decades. But there has been a spike in Central American families with kids arriving on the stretch of border that includes New Mexico.

Year-end figures released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection show that the El Paso Border Patrol sector, which includes all of New Mexico, saw a 52 percent increase in the number of “family units” from 5,664 in 2016 to 8,609 this past year.

“This is a mini-surge” said Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House, which provides temporary shelter for migrants and refugees in the El Paso and Las Cruces region. The organization often takes in parents with children released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE in the area because they don’t have detention space designed for families.

Garcia said there was a drop in the number of migrants arriving right after President Trump’s inauguration.

“What I think happened is we entered a wait and see period,” said Garcia. But in recent months Central Americans have started to cross the border again in the region. “There has been a steady climb” Garcia said.

An additional 6,889 families with children arrived at border crossings or international bridges in the region seeking asylum, an increase of 23 percent. Most are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

In recent years, the vast majority of Central American families and children arrived in South Texas in the Rio Grande Valley.

“One of the factors that makes people think of crossing further away from the Valley is it’s further away from the detention centers,” said Garcia. The main detention center built to house families is located near San Antonio. Instead of paying to transport parents with children, ICE often releases them and requires adults to wear ankle monitoring devices and check in as their cases move through immigration court.

The uptick in Central American migration to New Mexico and far West Texas is in sharp contrast to the decline in undocumented immigration overall with CBP reporting a total of 303,916 people apprehended this past year on the southwest border. Border Patrol agents picked up 15,562 people in New Mexico, more than half of the total 25,193 people apprehended in the El Paso sector.

“We have seen historic low numbers this year – an almost 30 percent decline in apprehensions in fiscal year 2017, but we are very concerned about the later month increases of unaccompanied minors and minors with a family member said Acting Deputy CBP Commissioner Ronald Vitiello at a news conference Wednesday in Washington D.C.

Border Patrol agents wait by their units to help apprehend undocumented immigrants traveling north through the Animas mountains. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Immigrant advocates who help Central American families and other refugees arriving on the border say enforcement alone won’t keep people fleeing violence and poverty from trying to cross the border.

“A lot of people are desperate and this is the only way they see as a way out for themselves,” said Garcia.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Henry's tree to be lit for the last time ...
ABQnews Seeker
But, even when the lights go ... But, even when the lights go dark, it will always be time to remember Henry Aceves, the man who saved Christmas
2
Snowboarder killed at Sipapu worked in Presbyterian ER
ABQnews Seeker
28-year-old trying sport for first time ... 28-year-old trying sport for first time apparently hit a tree
3
Ancient juniper trees cut illegally in New Mexico monument
ABQnews Seeker
Alligator junipers, which have unique bark, ... Alligator junipers, which have unique bark, can live up to 500 years, even in harsh conditions
4
Trial starts for suspect in uncle's shooting death
ABQnews Seeker
Prosecutor disputes claim of self-defense as ... Prosecutor disputes claim of self-defense as 2020 security video reviewed
5
NM middle school bans flags as capes
ABQnews Seeker
Popular trend barred after student honored ... Popular trend barred after student honored Confederacy on campus
6
Man pleads not guilty in death of Taos Pueblo ...
ABQnews Seeker
Not guilty plea in murder of ... Not guilty plea in murder of Taos Pueblo artist xxxxxx Jump Not guilty plea in murder of Taos Pue ...
7
'Rust' supplier may have mistakenly provided live rounds
ABQnews Seeker
Investigation by the Santa Fe County ... Investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office now centers around how live ammunition got onto the set and where it came from
8
Teen struck in hit-and-run crash dies
ABQnews Seeker
Incident happened near Rio Bravo and ... Incident happened near Rio Bravo and Isleta SW; vehicle involved fled the scene
9
The tumbleweed snowman is here
ABQnews Seeker
Holiday fixture has spread cheer along ... Holiday fixture has spread cheer along westbound I-40 for 26 years