POLITICS

New border crisis? Migrants crossing into U.S. from Mexico surge again, group says

MISSION, TX - APRIL 11:  U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border on April 11, 2013 near Mission, Texas. A group of 16 immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador said they crossed the Rio Grande River from Mexico into Texas during the morning hours before they were caught. The Rio Grande Valley sector of has seen more than a 50 percent increase in illegal immigrant crossings from last year, according to the Border Patrol. Agents say they have also seen an additional surge in immigrant traffic since immigration reform negotiations began this year in Washington D.C. Proposed refoms could provide a path to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million undocumented workers living in the United States. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

MISSION, TX - APRIL 11: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border on April 11, 2013 near Mission, Texas. A group of 16 immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador said they crossed the Rio Grande River from Mexico into Texas during the morning hours before they were caught. The Rio Grande Valley sector of has seen more than a 50 percent increase in illegal immigrant crossings from last year, according to the Border Patrol. Agents say they have also seen an additional surge in immigrant traffic since immigration reform negotiations began this year in Washington D.C. Proposed refoms could provide a path to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million undocumented workers living in the United States. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)  (2013 Getty Images)

The Rio Grande Valley area, in Texas, has seen an uptick in the number of people – notably fathers – crossing the border, according to a local relief group and federal officials.

Border agents are arresting hundreds more than usual, with as many as 750 detained in a single day recently, the Monitor of McAllen quoted a Border Patrol official as saying.

Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora said the rise is not as dramatic as the daily arrests that rose to 1,500 last year.

But at least one local relief group is feeling the strain of more immigrants seeking help in the last month.

“It’s not alarming for us. It’s something that we expected to see, but at the same time it is something that we are going to keep a pulse on,” Zamora said. “If we do see an increase, we want to make sure we don’t get caught off guard.”

But an immigrant relief center that Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley opened about a year ago is reporting seeing a tripling of immigrants coming to it in the last month.

The center is at the Sacred Heart Church downtown.

The director of the Catholic Charities office there, Sister Norma Pimentel, requested an additional tent to accommodate the extra people who have been arriving.

“It’s definitely put a strain on our resources,” Pimentel said to the Monitor. “This is a respite center and what we want is to take care for their immediate needs and they move on. So if they stay overnight, we need to work additional hours and we need additional help to take care of them.”

Efforts by Fox News Latinoto get a comment from the Border Patrol or Catholic Charities were unsuccessful.

Catholic Charities says that 762 immigrants stayed overnight at the center in July, roughly 30 percent more than the number that did at the height of last year’s surge from Central America, the Monitor said.

Last year’s surge included many unaccompanied minors, as well as mothers with young children, illegally approaching the U.S. border. Many said they were fleeing violence and poverty in their homelands, and have asked for political asylum.

Pimentel said the new influx became perceptible in June, when families started showing up at the center without bus tickets.

After that, the center installed a 25-by-35-foot tent that can fit up to 35 people.

“The extra tent is just to be prepared,” Pimentel said. “We’ve always needed the extra space, but the main factor recently was the increase in fathers. I wanted to make sure we made that separation between them and the women and children.”

Border Patrol agents met recently with local officials to discuss the uptick, according to the Monitor.

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