The flow of Central American migrants crossing the U.S. southern border is once again surging.
The total number of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border in 2016 is on track to surpass that total from 2014, when the flow overwhelmed Texas border patrol agents and caused a political uproar over President Barack Obama’s immigration policies.
The migrants — often young children — are coming primarily from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, reports The Washington Post. Border patrol agents have apprehended more than 122,000 illegal immigrants so far in 2016, including a lesser number of immigrants from Mexico. The number is quickly approaching the 2014 total of just over 132,259, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics.
“Clearly, at this point, the deterrence strategy has failed,” Kevin Appleby, international migration policy director at the Center for Migration Studies, told The Washington Post. “There needs to be a paradigm shift here, with more of a focus on protection and less on the enforcement side.”
Critics of Obama’s immigration policies say his public embrace of illegal immigrants has incentivized the flow. In response to the crisis, the Obama administration implemented a new “reunification” parole program in 2015, allowing qualifying immigrants to fly their children into the U.S. on the taxpayer’s dime, where they are eligible for federal benefits including a free education, healthcare and food stamps.
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