Immigrant Surge: U.S. raids target Central American families

HARLINGEN — Federal officials are bracing for a new surge of undocumented immigrant children from Central America.

At least one local shelter will see an impact from this.

A Harlingen shelter will expand while hundreds of beds will be added to shelters across the Southwest.

Since Oct. 1, U.S. Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 10,588 children along the Southwest border, more than 6,465 in the Rio Grande Valley area alone.

The numbers doubled from October 2014 to September 2015.

Meanwhile, federal agents have cracked down on Central American families with final orders for deportation.

Immigration agents over the weekend conducted the first raids targeting the deportation of families who flocked across the United States’ southern border over the past two years, a senior government official said Monday.

Jeh Johnson, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement that the 121 people rounded up during raids in Texas, Georgia and North Carolina were primarily members of Central American families that have crossed into the U.S. via Mexico since May 2014. Most were placed in family detention centers in Texas to await deportation.

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Why are they coming?

The surge has been linked to a rise in gang-related violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, while many migrants from these countries are seeking asylum due to domestic violence, or are seeking to reunite with family members already in the United States.

By the numbers

From October 2013 to September 2014, Border Patrol agents apprehended 252,600 undocumented immigrants along the Southwest border, including a record number of 68,541 children under 18 who traveled without parents or guardians.

Of the total number of children, 49,959 were apprehended in the Valley area.