A new report shows that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in San Diego are detaining more families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the first fiscal quarter of 2017, family unit apprehensions, or the number of individuals apprehended at the border with a family member, at San Diego border ports have increased by 246 percent from 2016.
Not all are turned away, though. Some, like 12-year-old Amira Matti and her family, are given asylum and a better life in the United States.
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Matti and her family came to the U.S. from violence-plagued Guatemala. She says that her family was stopped in Mexico and forced to live there around six months.
The family decided to turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents. They were held for a few days and underwent questioning, but were eventually granted asylum. Their physical journey had come to an end, but the process of assimilation had just begun.
Matti didn’t know English.
“Every day I used to cry not to go to school, and stuff,” Matti said while taking a break from a blacktop soccer match. “Cause, like, a lot of kids used to like to bother me.”
The demographic of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is constantly changing, and CBP officials say that detention centers in San Diego just aren’t designed to handle the high volume, nor are they designed to keep families together.
“It was more like a jail,” Matti said.
The top four countries seeing their citizens detained at the border are El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Family unit apprehensions from those countries have fluctuated constantly over the last three years, but in most cases, the total number of apprehensions is over 10,000.
It’s been a down year for all four nations to start off 2017, though. Compared to the first quarter of last year, the amount of family unit apprehensions from each of them has decreased by at least 7,000.
According to the Customs and Border Protection, the increase is due to the rising number of defectors from Caribbean nations like Haiti and Cuba.
You can view complete details from the recent CBP report here.