“Outdated laws” need fixing to deal with the surge in illegal immigrant families crossing the U.S. border with Mexico, a top Border Patrol official said Friday.
Migrant families face no consequences if apprehended trying to cross the border illegally under present law, Border Patrol chief of Operations Brian Hastings claimed during an appearance on "Fox & Friends."
“We need a change in the current outdated laws that we’re dealing with for this current demographic and this crisis that we have,” he said.
Hastings said as of Thursday there have been 440,000 apprehensions along the southwest border. There were 396,000 apprehensions all of last year.
And those numbers continue to rise, he said.
Historically 70 to 90 percent of apprehensions at the border were quickly returned to Mexico, Hastings said.
Now, 83 percent of those apprehended have come from the Central American northern triangle which includes Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, and of those 63 percent are “family units” and children who cannot be returned, he said.
“There are no consequences that we can apply to this group currently,” Hastings said. “We’re overwhelmed. If you look at agents there doing a tremendous job trying to deal with the flow."
The law dictates children have to be released after 20 days of detention.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says that has forced immigration officials to release entire families because "you don't want to separate families."
Recently, he said he is drafting legislation that would allow children to be detained for more than 20 days.
Hastings said agents are frustrated with the situation but are doing the best they can with the resources they have.
“Up to 40 percent of our agents are processing at any given time,” he said. “That should say that in and of itself is pulling from those border security resources.”