The Border Patrol apprehended 1,036 illegal immigrants in one single breach of the border fence Wednesday, marking a massive escalation in the border crisis.
The group was so large that agents were still processing them Thursday afternoon, and had to farm them out to eight different stations, a Customs and Border Protection official said.
“This is ultimately a new line of business for smuggling organizations,” the official said.
Of the people in the group, 63 were deemed to be children traveling unaccompanied by a parent, while 934 came as parents or children traveling together as families.
The migrants were nabbed after they crossed the initial border fence, gaining a foothold on U.S. land, and were apprehended in the buffer zone between the first-tier fence and a secondary fence layered further back.
The CBP official said migrants are enticed by smuggling organizations who tell them if they bring children, they can take advantage of lax enforcement on the U.S. side and get quick release into communities. Once here, rousting them is rare.
Of family migrants from Central America who arrived in 2017, 98 percent were still in the U.S. a year later.
This week’s group was so large that it took five minutes for the more than 1,000 people to climb through the breach in the first-tier border fence, the CBP official said. He said most of the migrants climbed underneath the fence, and it will now need repairs.