Border authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border believe that by the end of the year the number of undocumented immigrants trying to illegally cross into the United States could reach 1 million, possibly doubling last year’s figures.
The forecast comes at a time when detention facilities are struggling with housing capacities and are forced to release some families traveling with children. Just last weekend, at the central processing center at El Paso, Texas, which has lately become a hotspot, there was 395 percent over capacity.
“The numbers are trending from bad to worse, which is why we need Congress to act to fix outdated laws to address migrant flows,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted Tuesday, after meeting with government officials from Mexico.
She also plans to travel to Honduras to meet with foreign leaders there this week.
ABC News reports that Kevin McAleenan, head of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, canceled his testimony before Congress on Wednesday to travel to the southern border.
According to federal officials, about 95,000 migrants will likely attempt to cross the border, while this number is expected to rise to 100,000 in April. In such a scenario, attempted border crossings would be at half a million – the same as in the entire 2018.
These numbers pose a serious problem for President Donald Trump, who has vowed to curb migration, and represent a grave humanitarian crisis at the border. What complicates the situation further is the fact that unlike before, most of the people trying to cross the border are families with children rather than men looking for a job.
Facing harsh criticism for separating children from their parents, the administration went back on its zero-tolerance policy, possibly encouraging more migrants to travel to the U.S.