A group of Central American migrants were arrested crossing the Arizona border early Thursday (January 24). Jeffrey Self, acting Tucson border patrol chief, spoke to CNN yesterday (January 28) about the details of the incident. He said that after the group exited buses on Highway 2 in Mexico, near the Arizona border, “They walked about 100 yards, climbed under and over the vehicle barrier that is the only infrastructure in that area and agents were called in to make the arrest.”
Most of the 242 people taken into custody were families from Guatemala, reports CNN. They all peacefully surrendered to authorities; 130 of them were children and 11 of those kids were traveling unaccompanied.
Self told CNN that the system isn’t prepared to handle that many young people. “It’s a situation where not only are we overwhelmed with the numbers and the fact that there are so many children and (families) that are involved in this,” he said, but also “the fact that our system is not set up to handle family units. It’s set up to handle adults.” He continued: “Basically, you just turned an adult short-term detention center into…basically, a day care center. There’s nothing for them to do there. You’ve got to watch them, you have to separate them from non-family members, you only have so much detention space.”
The children were reportedly screened by U.S. Coast Guard medical staff, resulting in two children being sent to the hospital with high fevers. Self said those children are now “doing well” and were released to Customs and Border Protection.