Border Patrol Arrests 376 Who Dug Under Barrier in Arizona

Yuma Sector Border Patrol

A group of 376 Central Americans was arrested in southwest Arizona, the vast majority of them families who dug short, shallow holes under a barrier to cross the border, authorities said Friday.

Border patrol agents in Arizona this week were overwhelmed after the largest caravan of migrants ever to cross into the United States tunneled beneath the border wall near San Luis, Arizona.

The area became a major corridor for illegal crossings in the mid-2000s, prompting the federal government to weld steel plates to a barrier made of steel bollards that had been created to stop people in vehicles, not on foot, Border Patrol spokesman Jose Garibay III said. They form huge caravans, which sometimes include thousands of people, and march across Mexico in hopes of crossing the USA border, apparently seeking US-grade social benefits, as evident by their mass neglect for Mexico's invitation to stay and apply for refugee status there.

President Donald Trump's administration had tried to forbid migrants from requesting asylum after crossing the border illegally, but that move was struck down by a federal judge in November.

Nearly all of the group was made up of families and unaccompanied minors primarily from Guatemala.

In the case of this particular group, since most of the migrants were with their parents, they are supposed to be released into the USA while they wait for the government to process their asylum applications - a law many say only encourages illegal immigration.

"That's our No. 1 challenge that we have here in the Yuma sector, is the humanitarian problem", he told ABC News.

Of the 179 minors in the group, Newsweek reported, 30 of them were unaccompanied.

While overall crossings are at a decades-long low, parents with children now make up about 87 percent of the people caught crossing the southern border. Most of the families were sent to the central processing center in Yuma.

During Monday's apprehension, only three agents were patrolling a 26-mile stretch of the border.

Two days after the detentions in Yuma, a group of 247 people from Central America gave themselves up to border officials in New Mexico.

Saturday marks the 29th day of the longest government shutdown in history.

The crossing comes amid a political showdown in Washington, D.C., where President Trump has been sparring with Congressional Democrats over funding for the border wall, leaving the government closed for 28 days now.

Since October 1, 2018, the CBP says that 24 large groups of about 100 or more have illegally crossed the border near Lordsburg, New Mexico.

But while there has been a surge in the number of Central Americans seeking asylum in the USA in recent months, the number of arrests remains low by historical standards.

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