Number of illegal immigrants, unaccompanied children spikes at Mexican border

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents ride their ATVs on patrol along the international border between Mexico and the United States near San Diego. © Mike Blake
The number of families and unaccompanied children apprehended at the US-Mexican border has skyrocketed in recent months, according to statistics released Wednesday by the federal government.

According to US Customs and Border Protection data first reported by The Hill newspaper, 27,754 unaccompanied children were taken into custody by officials between October 2015 and March 2016, representing a 78 percent increase from 2015 figures.

The statistics also showed that 32,117 family units, defined as at least one child traveling with at least one adult, were apprehended during the same period, which represents a remarkable 131 percent spike from 2015.

The latest wave of immigrants comes as immigration hawk Donald Trump was declared the presumptive Republican nominee. Trump has vowed to build a wall along the entire US-Mexico border and deport all illegal immigrants.

The surge of illegal immigration is the worst since the summer of 2014, when thousands of unaccompanied minors poured into the country, overwhelming border officials and humanitarian workers.

Several factors may be causing the increased flow of illegal immigrants, including continued violence in Central America and new techniques used by human traffickers, according to Kevin Appleby of the Center for Migration Studies.

He also said that illegal immigrants have adapted to crackdowns instituted by Mexican authorities on behalf of the US in 2015.

"Our policy of deterrence is clearly not working no matter how much we pay the Mexican government to do our dirty work," Appleby told The Hill.

In 2015, Congress appropriated $750 million to be used toward stabilizing countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in an attempt to address the root causes of massive illegal immigration