The U.S. Border Patrol reported this week that it has apprehended more than 66,000 unaccompanied immigrant children at the southern U.S. border in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2014.
Officials said 66,127 children have been taken so far, an 88 percent increase over the 35,209 children that were apprehended in the same period last year. More than 50,000 of the children are from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras, and almost all of the rest are from Mexico.
The new data is updated through August, and September is the last month of fiscal year 2014.
The Border Patrol also reported that another 66,142 adults and children traveling as part of a family have been apprehended through August. That’s a huge 412 percent increase from last year.
Nearly 60,000 of the people traveling with family members are from the three Central American countries.
Some officials and members of Congress say they expect that around 90,000 immigrant children will be apprehended at the border by the end of the fiscal year. To reach that target, border officials would have to take in close to 25,000 children in September, which would represent a huge surge compared to the normal monthly traffic seen so far.
In August, only 3,000 children were apprehended, although many said the hot summer weather likely discouraged many children and families from making the trek through Mexico and across the border into Texas.
The surge of adult and child illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has been labeled a humanitarian crisis by members of both political parties. It’s also posed major logistics problems for the Obama administration, which has had to readjust federal spending in order to cope with the influx of thousands of people.
The Department of Homeland Security has redirected money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration in order to continue funding these activities.
Administration officials have also transferred thousands of illegal immigrants around the country, which have led to complaints from state officials who say they are not being told when and where immigrants are being dropped off.
However, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said last week that the reduced numbers of people crossing the border means the crisis is over “for now.” But even he admitted that cooler weather could mean a return of higher numbers.