The Trump administration has taken an unprecedented step to combat the growing number of migrants detained at the border: organizing aircraft flights for relocation to other detention facilities for processing.
According to The Washington Post, Customs and Border Protection began transporting migrants by plane last week to several border detention centers along the border to mitigate the reports of overcrowding and understaffing.
“This is the worst I have ever seen it, by far,” one Border Patrol veteran told the Post about the number of migrants apprehended along the southern border.
The damage control tactic began on Friday, transferring migrants from McAllen, Texas to a facility about five hours away, and the flights are scheduled to continue daily next week, the newspaper reported, citing three Homeland security officials. Each flight costs $16,000 and can transport about 135 adults per flight, the The Washington Post reported.
While the U.S. has used airplanes to transport migrants to various detention facilities before, this is the first time airplanes have been used to transport migrants to booking and processing facilities. Nearly 100,000 migrants were apprehended along the border in April, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
“For the first time in over a decade, CBP is performing direct releases of migrants when [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] is unable to provide bed space to relieve overcrowding,” Kevin McAleenan, acting DHS secretary and head of Customs and Border Protection, said in March on the increasing number of illegal border crossings. “That breaking point has arrived this week at our border.”
Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost echoed these concerns before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration on Wednesday, testifying the “apprehension numbers are off the charts” and have already broken a 10-year record in only seven months.
“We cannot address this crisis by shifting more resources. It's like holding a bucket under a faucet. It doesn't matter how many buckets you give me if we can't turn off the flow,” she said.