More than 125,000 unaccompanied children have arrived at the southern border since President Biden took office in January, smashing previous records, according to a new report.
From February through August, 112,433 children without their parents were encountered after crossing the border, and data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that an additional 15,000 children came across in September and the first few weeks of October, the Washington Examiner reported.
The report noted that the Department of Homeland Security has yet to release official totals.
The 125,000 arrivals in those nine months eclipse the 12-month record of 80,000 set in 2019, the report said.
The children mainly come from Central American countries, but recently they have been traveling from South America as well.
In most cases, their families pay “coyotes” — human smugglers — to take them to the US.
“They’re smuggled but not trafficked, necessarily,” Theresa Cardinal Brown, managing director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank in Washington, told the newspaper.
Between 14,000 and 19,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the border each month — numbers far above the 3,000 to 6,000 who have arrived in an average month over the past 10 years.
Before this year, the highest number of children encountered at the border in a single month was 11,861 during the humanitarian crisis in May 2019.
The Biden administration has struggled to contain the crisis at the border after the president rolled back or reversed many of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, including stopping construction of the border wall.
And many illegal immigrants say Biden’s actions led them to believe he was opening the border for people seeking asylum.
The influx of unaccompanied children is overwhelming federal facilities, forcing the White House to allow them into the country.
The Post reported this week that planes containing underage children have been quietly arriving at the Westchester County Airport in the middle of the night.
Most of the passengers include children and teens, but there were also men who appeared to be in their 20s among them.
After arriving in Westchester, the migrants are loaded into buses and driven to New Jersey and Long Island, where they meet up with relatives or sponsors.
Brown told the newspaper that the children coming to the US fit in three categories — they are sent by family members to live with a relative in the US, family members in the US send for them, or they decide on their own to migrate.
Smugglers charge as much as $10,000 per person.
Once they arrive, Border Patrol agents process them at regional stations where they are held until being transferred to HHS.
The children remain at the HHS shelter until officials find an adult in the US they can be released to.
The DHS and HHS declined to comment about the whereabouts of the 125,000 children, the report said.
Andrew Arthur, a former federal immigration judge, said the Biden administration has exacerbated the problem with its lax immigration policies.
“The reason that the smugglers are sort of abandoning these children is because they know that [the Department of Homeland Security] is going to find [the parent],” Arthur, resident fellow in law and policy at the conservative Center for Immigration Policy think tank in Washington, told the Examiner.
“We have helped them perfect their business model. If they simply drop them over the wall, then they’re not going to get arrested by DHS because they can just flee back to Mexico while DHS is too busy taking care of the kid,” he said.