Raul Ortiz, deputy chief of U.S. Border Patrol, reported on Tuesday that he expects more than a million illegal immigrants to cross the nation’s southern border by the end of 2021.
“We’re already starting to see some higher days of 6,000-plus apprehensions,” Raul Ortiz, deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, told reporters. “So I fully expect our border patrol agents to encounter over a million people this year.”
More than 100,000 illegal immigrants crossed the border in February. Ortiz noted the highest number of illegal immigrants attempt to enter the U.S. between April and June.
Border Patrol ended March with more than 16,000 unaccompanied immigrant children in custody. The growing numbers have led to child migrant camps exceeding capacity.
An overcrowded facility in Donna, Texas, holds about 4,100 people, including many unaccompanied children, Reuters reported. Approximately 2,000 unaccompanied children have been held there for more than the legal limit of 72 hours.
The Pentagon also announced last Wednesday it will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to use a space at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and land at Fort Bliss, Texas, near El Paso, to house migrant children.
The Lackland facility will house up to 350 children, while Fort Bliss has capacity for up to 5,000. Peterson Air Force base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is also being evaluated as a potential site to house immigrant children, according to the Pentagon.
The immigrant surge has been criticized by both Republican and Democrat leaders in recent weeks. During President Joe Biden’s first week in office, he signed an executive order banning most deportations for 100 days.
Biden signed another executive order halting construction of the Trump border wall.
The remain-in-Mexico policy kept asylum-seekers who sought entry at the southern border to be returned to Mexico while awaiting a hearing in the U.S.
The report comes as a news release from Border Patrol showed two girls, ages 3 and 5, dropped over a 14-foot barrier miles from the nearest residence. Border Patrol placed the young girls in a temporary facility.