Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents continue to be overwhelmed by “large groups” of Central American migrants who exploit outdated border barriers to enter the U.S. in remote locations.

Agents patrolling the border west of the Lukeville Port of Entry encountered a large group of migrants as they crossed Normandy-style vehicle barriers to illegally enter the United States. Tucson Sector Border Patrol officials said this is the same area where they continue to see multiple “large groups” of mostly Central American migrants. Border Patrol defines a “large group” as 100 or more migrants.

Officials said the group spread out along multiple locations on the Mexican side of the barrier. This is a technique utilized by Mexican cartel-connected human smugglers to tie up as many Border Patrol agents as possible, officials previously told Breitbart News.

In total, agents apprehended 135 migrants after they illegally crossed the border.

Large migrant groups are becoming a major problem for Border Patrol agents. The cartel-connected smugglers have adopted the strategy this year of utilizing large groups to tie up Border Patrol resources and create a diversion.

“Currently as of March 28 the Border Patrol set another unsettling milestone by reaching 100 large groups that we’ve seen so far this fiscal year,” U.S. Border Patrol Chief Law Enforcement Operations Director Brian Hastings told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday. “Again, we define a large group as a group over 100.”

“The resources that we’re pulling away from national security have a negative effect on law enforcement mission,” the operations director continued. “Currently each day we’re pulling approximately 40% of our agents on the Southwest border, and diverting them specifically for the humanitarian need, that is to care for, transport and process family units and UACs.”

“Not only does this divert our resources, but as we’ve seen recently, smuggling organizations are utilizing these large groups as a diversion to enable the movement of smuggling of narcotics,” Hastings stated. “Approximately 60 large groups so far this year have been encountered in remote locations which causes us particular concern because they’re generally the furthest away from our processing centers, medical services, contract transportation, and even our stations.”

In Monday’s incident with the 135 migrants, Tucson Sector leaders were forced to reallocate resources to take care of the migrants. “To ensure the well-being and quick transportation of the families in the rising heat, resources were reallocated to the area, causing the two Border Patrol checkpoints on State Route 85 to be temporarily closed,” Tucson Sector officials stated.

The inland checkpoints serve as a valuable law enforcement tool to stop drug and human smugglers from moving their cargo into the U.S. interior.

The apprehension of mostly Central American migrant families skyrocketed in March bringing the Border Patrol’s ability to prosecute its law enforcement operations to the “breaking point,” Hastings said. The apprehension of Family Unit Aliens jumped 374 percent so far this year when compared to the same period last year, Breitbart News reported on Tuesday.

During the month of March, Border Patrol agents apprehended 53,077 FMUAs — mostly in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso Sectors. In addition, agents apprehended another 8,975 Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC). Border Patrol officials define a family unit as one adult parent or guardian traveling with one or more minors. One year earlier, agents apprehended only 8,875 FMUAs and 4,140. In March 2017, agents apprehended 1,126 family units and 1,041 unaccompanied minors.

Hastings said one solution to the current problem would be for Congress to fix the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2008.

“Specifically,” Hastings said in response to a question from the New York Times. “What we look at the biggest problem being for us appears to be TVPRA and [the Flores settlement agreement] and then just going through the system quicker in a more – adjudicating the cases quicker, if you will. We need some assistance with CIS and additional attorneys in order to expedite these cases and the credible fear claims quicker.

These issues, combined with the massive number of migrant apprehensions have forced Border Patrol officials to order the expedited release of migrants directly after Border Patrol processing at the border.

“We know the continued release of family units will only increase the draw but Border Patrol has no other option at this time due to our capability or capacity limitations and those of our partners,” Hastings concluded. “The only way to address this trend is to change the message that if you bring a child you’ll be allowed entry into our country. To do that, we need an immigration system that allows the government to maintain custody of the family unit through an expeditious immigration proceeding.”

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

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