US sees 'surprising' spike in border crossings
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The United States saw a spike last month in the number of unaccompanied minors and families illegally crossing the southern border, the White House said Monday. 

“We have seen, just in the last month, in the month of August, a surprising uptick,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. 

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Earnest did not provide exact an exact number but said it was “far below” last year’s peak level, which initially overwhelmed U.S. government resources.

The spokesman said the increase was unusual because the number of unaccompanied minors who cross the border usually falls in August due to extreme heat.

“That is something that is concerning,” Earnest said. 

The increase in crossings could raise fears about a repeat of last year, when the U.S. faced a border crisis spurred by people from Central America fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. 

At the crisis’s peak, as many as 10,000 children per month, and 16,000 adults with children, came to the U.S.-Mexico border, according to CNN, which first reported the news about the August figures.

Earnest said administration officials would brief members of Congress on the latest details. And he said the U.S. is redoubling its effort to warn people in Central America about the dangers of the journey.

“This is something that we take very seriously,” he said. “It's something that the administration has been quite vigilant about over the last year and a half, and it's something that we're going to closely monitor in the months ahead.”

The latest spike coincides with a refugee crisis in Europe, where hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled their war-torn country. 

It also comes amid a heated immigration debate in the 2016 presidential campaign, in which Republican front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE has pledged to build a wall across the entire southern border if he is elected. 

Earnest said it is not clear if either of those stories is a factor in the latest surge.  

“It’s hard to know exactly what is — what may or may not be causing these latest numbers.”