Illegal Immigrants

Increasing number of migrants from around the world making way to US border

FILE - In this Dec. 3, 2014, file photo, cars wait to enter the United States from Tijuana, Mexico, through the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego.

FILE - In this Dec. 3, 2014, file photo, cars wait to enter the United States from Tijuana, Mexico, through the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego.

Arrest data from the Homeland Security Department reported that an increasing number of people from around the globe have tried to sneak in the U.S. among the hundreds of thousands of other, mostly Latin American migrants caught at the Mexican border within the last year.

More than 8,000 people from different countries, such as: India, China, Romania, Bangladesh and Nepal between October 2015 and August 2016. The increase in arrests has created a challenge for officials who are in charge of identifying immigrants and deporting those caught crossing the border illegally.

More than 408,000 people were caught illegally crossing the Mexican border in the last year. The arrests suggest a rising trend in migrants searching for an alternative route that would be moving across the seas to South America, over land to Central America and then through Mexico before arriving at the U.S. border illegally.

Illegal immigration has been a hot button topic during the presidential campaign season, stemming from Republican nominee Donald Trump who has pushed back on the illegal immigration this year with controversial comments.

While in the past Mexico has led the numbers for most immigrants using the border to come to the U.S. illegally, that number has since dropped in recent years.

India and China are now among the top 10 countries of origin for people caught trying to sneak into the United States. Large numbers of immigrants from those two countries have long come to the United States legally and many have overstayed visas to remain here.

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Obtaining a visa has become harder to come by in recent years causing some to try coming to the U.S. via the Mexican border.

Victor Manjarrez, a former Border Patrol sector chief and director of the Center for Law & Human Behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso, said the increased migrant number from countries around the world should be considered a growing concern.

"That is very unusual. If I was still sitting as the chief of El Paso or Tucson...I'd be a little concerned," Manjarrez said. "In the grand scheme, as a percentage, it's relatively small but the raw numbers are such a big jump historically."

The global migration trend is creating a challenge for U.S. border security and other immigration enforcement efforts.

The Homeland Security Department has made arresting, jailing and deporting recent border crossers a top priority for immigration agents. Migrants from different continents have created a much longer and more expensive process for the U.S. government.

"The further away you get from the Americas, the more difficult it is to really know who they are," Manjarrez said.

The uptick in arrivals of people from other continents, combined with an increase in overall border crossings in the last 12 months, has led to a spike of more than 40,000 people being held in immigration jails in recent weeks. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's budget gives them enough money to house 34,000 people at any given time and the recent overflow has officials worried they may face a budget shortfall of more than $130 million in the coming months if the trend continues.

DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said the agency has enough money to "operate at current levels" until Dec. 9, when a temporary budget resolution expires. After that, she said, DHS will work to either shift money from other parts of the department or find another "alternative budget strategy." She described the possible budget adjustment as "common."

Mexican federal immigration officials reported that over 7,000 people allegedly from Africa have been arrested in Mexico between January and August.

In 2013 Mexican immigration authorities arrested fewer than 1,000 migrants from Asia and Africa, while the number rose to nearly 11,000 from January through August.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.