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Border agents in Arizona apprehended over 70 unaccompanied migrant children on Tuesday — stoking fears about the threat of human trafficking at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents encountered the group near Sasabe, Arizona – a hamlet mere steps from the southern border. The party was made up of mostly Guatemalan nationals.
The group included 88 people, seven of which were adults. Of the 81 children apprehended, 71 were unaccompanied by parents or guardians.
The large encounter was announced by chief border patrol agent John Modlin on Twitter.
“Smugglers continue to cross large groups of children along the #SouthwestBorder,” Modlin wrote on Twitter.
The border crisis has intensified over the past year, as massive groups of migrants are apprehended at the border in record amounts. Border patrol numbers state that more than 1.6 million encounters took place in fiscal year 2021, the highest number ever recorded.
The surge in migrants often leads to an increase in traffickers and drug smugglers seeking to take advantage of asylum-seekers – making the journey extremely unsafe for children.
The encounter was reported in the wake of the Biden administration motioning to end the Trump-era Remain in Mexico policy on Monday. The Department of Homeland Security said the policy — which required asylum-seekers to stand-by in Mexico for U.S. immigration court hearings — will end “in a quick, and orderly manner.”