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Number of family arrivals at US-Mexico border spiked in August after gov't eased crackdown

The total number of people arrested or stopped at the border in August was 46,560, up from 39,953 in July. Border Patrol agents apprehend illegal immigrants shortly after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on March 26 in the Rio Grande Valley Sector near McAllen, Texas. (LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. border officials arrested significantly more immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border in August than the other months of summer. The Trump administration attributed the increase to “legal loopholes” that allow children to avoid immediate deportation.

What are the numbers?

In August, 15,955 families arrived at the border compared to 12,274 in July, The Associated Press reported. More than one-third of the people stopped at the border were families.

“We’re not surprised by it, but it’s been a very stark trend,” U.S. Customs and Border Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said. He also called it “a crisis of significant proportions from a humanitarian perspective and a security perspective."

The Trump administration introduced a stringent policy on illegal immigration in April, which led to more than 2,500 children being separated from their parents or other adults accompanying them. Faced with heavy criticism, President Donald Trump ended the practice in June.

Immigration remains a key issue as midterm elections approach.

The administration last week took steps to abandon a “longstanding court settlement" that places limits on how long immigrant children "can be kept locked up,” the report stated. The move was designed to increase the speed of handling asylum requests and deter illegal border crossings.

New regulations being proposed would allow the government to detain families until their immigration cases are decided. Immigrant rights activists are angered by the move, and a court battle could ensue, The Associated Press reported.

The total number of people arrested or stopped at the border in August was 46,560, up from 39,953 in July. In August 2017, that figure was 30,567. Border arrests are not an entirely accurate gauge of illegal crossings because they do not include how many people got away, the report noted.

Trump previously emphasized that arrests fell sharply to fewer than 16,000 in April 2017. Arrests increased in 11 of the following 12 months. In March, April and May, arrests topped 50,000.

Anything else?

On another matter, the Trump administration said earlier this week it will expand its tent shelter for immigrant minors crossing the border to 3,800 beds. It will also be kept open through the end of this year, according to the report.

A facility in Tornillo, Texas, initially opened with a 360-bed capacity for 30 days, but is being expanded. The expansion is necessary based on how many children are in the care of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to the report.

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