The United States has intensified its crackdown on undocumented migrants attempting to enter the country through its southern borders, with the US Border Patrol announcing to have apprehended nearly 400,000 people crossing the Mexico-US border in the 2018 fiscal year.
US border officials said on Tuesday that they arrested some 397,000 people in total at the southern border in fiscal 2018 that ended on September 30, up roughly 100,000 from the previous year.
US Border Patrol agents also said nearly 17,000 members of family units were apprehended while trying to cross the US border with Mexico in September, underlining a 31 percent increase compared to August.
About 40 percent of those arrested in fiscal 2017 and 2018 were unaccompanied children or families with children, compared with 10 percent in 2012, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank.
US authorities noted that the change in the makeup of migrants to families with children is due to immigration laws protecting minors.
Earlier this year, the administration of US President Donald Trump tried to deter families from traveling to the border by exercising a “zero tolerance” policy, separating thousands of children as their parents were prosecuted.
About 2,500 children and parents were separated before Trump abandoned the policy in June following a public outcry and a federal judge’s order for the family reunions.
Trump has threatened to deploy the military to stop the migrants from entering his country. This is while the United Nations has called on Washington to honor its human rights commitments.
US border control agents along the country’s southern border with Mexico have widely been accused of abusing and even shooting to death Central American migrants fleeing gang-violence and poverty and attempting to illegally slip across the US border.
Trump pledged during campaign that he would crack down on illegal immigration by building a “big and beautiful” wall across the southern border. He has also signed executive orders that call for the hiring of 5,000 more Border Patrol agents and 10,000 more immigration officers.