Large groups of migrants stop crossing at the Arizona-Mexico border

Monday, August 19, 2019
By Paul Martin

Rafael Carranza
Arizona Republic
Aug. 19, 2019

TUCSON — Large groups of 100 migrants or more have stopped crossing the Arizona-Mexico border as the overall number of apprehensions borderwide has plummeted in the past few months.

Large groups, sometimes with as many as 1,000 migrants, continue to be documented along certain sections of the southwestern U.S. border. The most recent encounter was Aug. 9 in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley.

But border agents stationed at the two busiest corridors along Arizona’s border, in the desert west of Lukeville and in San Luis, haven’t processed a group of more than 100 migrants since early June, the U.S. Border Patrol says.

The decrease in large groups coincides with a massive 63% drop in apprehensions along the Arizona border in a relatively short amount of time. May had the highest number of monthly apprehensions this year at 20,801. July had the lowest: 7,687 apprehensions.

Additionally, July’s apprehensions in Arizona of migrant families and minors, who make up the majority of the large groups, were less than a third of what the numbers were at May’s peak.

The large groups have given way to smaller, continuous flows of groups of people seeking out agents to claim asylum in the U.S., according to the Border Patrol.

“So what’s happening is there’s a trickle there, where they are crossing three to four people at a time every hour or so, and doing it that way,” said Pete Bidegain, a special operations supervisor for Border Patrol in Arizona. “As opposed to congregating everyone together and walking them across in a large group.”

Is Mexico stopping large groups?

The phenomenon of large groups, which U.S. Customs and Border Protection defines as groups of more than 100 migrants, is not new. But it reached historic proportions this year amid a dramatic increase in the number of migrants, especially families and minors, reaching the U.S.-Mexico border.

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