The Border Patrol's El Paso sector announced Monday that its agents had taken 330 migrants into custody, hours before President Trump was to visit the sector to make his latest pitch for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The migrants were arrested shortly after midnight at the Antelope Wells entry point in southern New Mexico, which is part of the Border Patrol's El Paso sector. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement that the group was composed primarily of "Central American families and unaccompanied juveniles" and was the 28th group of 100 or more migrants to be apprehended in the El Paso sector since the beginning of October.
The Border Patrol in El Paso has repeatedly highlighted the issue of migrants surrendering to authorities by the hundreds in southern New Mexico since two children died in U.S. custody late last year, calling it an "ongoing situation" and blaming "unscrupulous smugglers."
"Criminal organizations continue to exploit innocent human lives in order to enhance their illicit activities without due regard to the risks of human life," CBP said in a statement. "In most cases these smugglers never cross the border themselves in order to avoid apprehension."
Trump's visit to El Paso has become a point of contention among locals since he referenced the border city in last week's State of the Union address. The president insisted that the completion of border fencing had led to a drop in El Paso's crime rate, a claim that has been challenged by local officials.
Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a potential Democratic presidential contender in 2020, will be among those taking part in a march through El Paso to protest the planned wall that will take place simultaneously with Trump's rally.
Fox News' Ray Bogan, Maggie Kerkman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.