Hundreds of people were dropped off on Highway 2 in Mexico early Thursday, after which they crossed the Arizona border, said acting Tucson Border Patrol Chief Jeffrey Self.
“They walked about 100 yards, climbed under and over the vehicle barrier that is the only infrastructure in that area and agents were called in to make the arrest,” he pointed out.
The 242 migrants, the majority of which were Guatemalan families, were spotted by a mobile surveillance system and were soon arrested by Border Patrol agents, who noted that this was one of the largest single groups crossing the Arizona border over the last year.
Similar to other groups of families, these migrants willingly surrendered to Border Patrol with no attempts to evade or hide from authorities, CNN informs.
Earlier this month, about 375 migrants were taken into Border Patrol custody in the Yuma, Arizona and another 306 migrants were taken into custody last week in a remote part of New Mexico near the border.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan expressed concerns last month that a new trend was emerging at the southern border where large groups of migrants arrive in buses and unload in remote areas.
“So far in this fiscal year, and this has been a brand-new phenomenon this fiscal year, we have started to see extremely large groups arrive together several times, usually once or twice a week since about mid-October,” he said.
For now, it remains unclear how the latest group of migrants traveled from their home country to Arizona. A large portion of the group was made up of children, raising concerns about their numbers as well as about handling them.
“It’s a situation where not only are we overwhelmed with the numbers and the fact that there are so many children and (families) that are involved in this,” but also “the fact that our system is not set up to handle family units. It’s set up to handle adults.”
Children were immediately screened by medical teams, who said they were “doing well.”