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Acting Secretary McAleenan Returns to Rio Grande Valley to Assess ‘Whole of Government’ Humanitarian Response

Release Date: 
May 11, 2019

On May 11, Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan will travel to the U.S. Southern Border on Saturday to meet with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) frontline personnel who have been surged to the Rio Grande Valley area as part of the interagency response to the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis.

Joined by Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, the Acting Secretary will receive a border security update from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) officials, taking place at the McAllen Border Patrol Station. The pair will then tour the McAllen Border Patrol Station and participate in a “muster” with National Guard Troops and DHS personnel at the McAllen border wall.

Importantly, the support of DoD allows DHS to crack down on criminal organizations who exploit vulnerable migrants, helping save people who were drowning in rivers, who were gravely injured, and those who were left for dead by smugglers. In total, Border Patrol agents rescued 4,311 individuals in FY 2018, and in the first four months of FY 2019 rescued 861 individuals.

In response to the largest influx of migrants crossing the southern over in over a decade, DHS is taking a “whole of government” approach to confront the ongoing crisis and fulfill the Department's humanitarian and security obligations. With DHS facilities at peak capacity, rapid growth in the flow of migrants entering the U.S. through the southern border is straining DHS resources to their breaking point, threatening lives on both sides of the border—including underprivileged families and children at risk from the dangerous journey to the U.S.

Recently released data from CBP show that in the month of April alone, CBP apprehended over 109,000 migrants—the largest monthly total in more than a decade.

With increased migrant flows, smugglers and traffickers are forcing more people into inhumane and unsafe conditions.  In one study, more than 30 percent of women reported being sexually assaulted along the way, and 70 percent of all migrants reported experiencing violence. In most years, DHs would encounter only one or two groups of more than 100 migrants arrive at our borders. Already in this fiscal year, CBP has seen more than 90 large groups of over 100 migrants.

DHS continues to urge lawmakers to provide the men and women of DHS with the appropriate tools and resources to achieve their mission as they confront ever-evolving challenges and circumstances. Given the scale of the crisis, the Department will exhaust its resources before the end of this fiscal year without the supplemental funding requested by the administration. 

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Last Published Date: June 5, 2019
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