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Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents apprehended two large groups of illegal immigrants, totaling 253 people at a location near the southern border Thursday night.
A group of agents were screening 166 illegal immigrants south of Mission, Texas when another group of 87 turned themselves in to the agents, CBP said. According to a press release, the groups mainly consisted of unaccompanied minors and family units and came from human smugglers.
“Even with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, human smugglers continue to try these brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger nor to the health of the citizens of our great nation,” the release read.
“The U.S. Border Patrol agents of the Rio Grande Valley Sector will continue to safeguard the nation and community against these criminal elements.”
The arrests came as thousands of immigrants reportedly approached the border as the Biden administration worked toward policies that would liberalize the nation’s immigration system. Among those policies, Biden has committed to creating a pathway to citizenship — something many describe as amnesty — for people here illegally.
“CBP has seen a steady increase in border encounters since April 2020, which, aggravated by COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines, has caused some facilities to reach maximum safe holding capacity,” according to CBP Public Affairs Officer Rod Kise.
CBP also reported that agents apprehended 38 illegal immigrants on Wednesday at what they thought could be a stash house.
“Upon arrival, several subjects were seen exiting the residence through a broken window in an attempt to flee before being taken into custody,” the release read. “Agents and deputies entered the property and encountered several other subjects.”
While the agency committed to “processing” the migrants, the Biden administration recently restored the “catch and release” policy repealed under former President Trump.
This is the first time since the surge of 2019 that CBP has been compelled to revive the controversial policy.
CBP said three factors led to the decision to release illegal immigrant families: an increase of migrant traffic — specifically, families from Central America and unaccompanied children; Mexico’s refusal to accept additional families with children under age 12 in areas where migrant camps grow increasingly large, overwhelming the shelter and services; and COVID-19, which has severely reduced Border Patrol detention and transport capacity.
Fox News’ William LaJeneusse contributed to this report.
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