U.S. Customs and Border Protection late Thursday announced that 68,541 unaccompanied illegal immigrant children were apprehended in fiscal year 2014, a 77 percent increase from the nearly 39,000 kids taken in the year before.
While that's a dramatic jump, it's far fewer than the 90,000 some administration officials and members of Congress were predicting for the fiscal year, which ended September 30. (Note: the numbers provided by CBP run through October 7, 2014, a week past the end of the fiscal year.)
U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants in the brush near Falfurrias, Texas. The government reported that more than 68,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the border in fiscal year 2014. John Moore/Getty Images
Almost all of the 30,000 increase in unaccompanied children was due to a huge surge at the Rio Grande sector of the border. Earlier this year, both Republicans and Democrats said the surge of children was a humanitarian crisis.
But the numbers slowed in the last few months of the fiscal year. Only 3,000 children were apprehended in August, and just over 2,000 were taken in September and the first week of October.
That's far fewer than the 10,000 that were being apprehended each month earlier in the year.
CBP reported that it also apprehended 68,445 people at the border who traveled as family members. That's a 361 percent jump over the 14,855 members of family units who were apprehended in fiscal year 2013.
In recent months, Obama administration officials have said the hot summer months prompted many illegal immigrants from Central America to delay their trek through Mexico and into the United States. But officials have said the crisis could return at any time.
Republicans have blamed President Obama's plan to create legal status for millions of illegal immigrants as the reason for the immigration surge over the last year. Once the surge became a humanitarian crisis, Obama administration officials have made efforts to tell Central American leaders that most of the children taken in would be returned, and some say that message also helped reduce the flow of illegal immigrants.
The GOP has also warned tighter border enforcement is needed to ensure supporters of the Islamic State are not allowed entry, or anyone who might be carrying the Ebola virus. Earlier Thursday, border agents told TheBlaze that aren't equipped to deal with people who might have the virus.