Acting DHS chief testifies about situation at border

Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAleenan testified before Congress Tuesday about new migration figures from the U.S. border with Mexico.

“In the last 40 days, 60,000 children have entered into DHS custody, both unaccompanied and as part of family units," McAleenan told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Last month ... we encountered a modern record of 144,000 border crossers, a record day of over 5,800 border crossings in a single 24-hour period and the largest single group ever apprehended at our border, 1,036 individuals.” 

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McAleenan noted the shifting composition of migrant flows from largely single adult men from Mexico to unaccompanied children and families, which puts additional pressure on facilities because they cannot be “effectively repatriated.” 

“Any of our officers at the border can tell you that DHS facilities are overflowing, that our resources are stretched thin, with up to 50 percent of border patrol agents in key sectors assigned to processing, transport, medical care, and hospital watch, not securing our border,” he added.

McAleenan said that Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump fires back at Graham over Iran criticism Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US Republicans wary of US action on Iran MORE's (R-S.C.) Secure and Protect Act of 2019 would “end the crisis.”

The bill would seek to address some of the factors spiking migration that McAleenan highlighted during his testimony, including the immigration court backlog and the guarantee that unaccompanied children cannot be repatriated.

“We’ve reached the breaking point at the border,” Graham said while detailing his plan during his opening statement Tuesday.

Graham added that the Senate Appropriations Committee will vote next week on President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE's request for $4.5 billion in emergency spending tied to the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I think the game plan is that we're going to take the $4.5 billion that was in the disaster package that was unfortunately taken out and mark it up next week as a stand-alone proposition," he said.