(CNSNews.com) – DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Wednesday that the current trend of illegal immigration is on track for a million illegals to enter the United States this year.

DHS announced Tuesday a spike in the number of illegal immigrant apprehensions at the Mexican border, Nielsen said in her opening testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee.

She noted an 80 percent increase in the number of illegals compared to the same time in 2018.


“Since late last year, we have been seeing 50,000 to 60,000 migrants arrive at our southern border each month, but in February, we saw a 30 percent jump over the previous month with agents apprehending or encountering nearly 75,000 aliens. This is an 80 percent increase over the same time last year, and I can report today that CBP is forecasting the problem will get even worse this spring as the weather warms up,” she said.

“The projections are dire. The agency is now on track to apprehend more migrants crossing illegally in the first six months of this fiscal year than the entirety of FY17, and at the current pace, we are on track to encounter close to one million illegal aliens at our southern border this year,” Nielsen said.

Fiscal year 2019 started on Oct. 1, 2018 and ends on Sept. 30, 2019.

“Our capacity is already severely restrained, but these increases will overwhelm the system entirely. This is not a manufactured crisis. This is truly an emergency. What’s different about the current migrant flows – and this is important – is not just how many people are coming, but who is arriving,” the secretary said.

“Historically, illegal aliens crossing into the United States were predominantly single adult males from Mexico with no legal right to stay and who we could quickly detain and remove within 48 hours, but in recent years, we have seen the numbers of vulnerable populations, children and families skyrocket. Over 60 percent of the current flow are family units and unaccompanied alien children, and 60 percent are non-Mexican,” she said.

“The vast majorities of these individuals are from Central America. While many of them initially claim asylum and are let into the United States, only one in 10 are ultimately granted asylum by an immigration judge. Unfortunately, when it comes time to remove the other 90 percent, they have often disappeared into the interior of our country,” Nielsen said.

Information about the weaknesses in the immigration system “have spread quickly in Central America,” the secretary said. “In fact, they are advertised, and our booming economy under President Trump has made the dangerous journey even more attractive to migrants.”

Over the past five years, there has been a 620 percent increase in the number of families or those pretending to be families apprehended at the southern border, she said.

“This last fiscal year was the highest on record, and of great concern to me is that the children are being used as pawns to get into our country,” Nielsen said. “We have encountered recycling rings where innocent young people are used multiple times to help aliens gain illegal entry.”

Furthermore, she said, Customs and Border Patrol reported a 50 percent spike in the number of gang members apprehended at the border compared to the last fiscal year.