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More migrant families crossing Mexican border despite Trump crackdown: DHS

Activists protest against Donald Trump's administration's separation of illegal immigrant children from their parents
Activists protest against Donald Trump's administration's separation of illegal immigrant children from their parents GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
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Washington (AFP)

Arrests of migrant families illegally crossing the Mexican border into the United States jumped 38 percent in August from July, official data showed Wednesday, despite efforts by Donald Trump's administration to crack down on the flow.

The Department of Homeland Security said that 12,774 people who crossed the border as families without immigration documents were taken into custody last month, the highest ever for a month of August.

The number jumped after US courts ordered the administration to stop separating immigrant children from their parents for lengthy periods, a practice that had left hundreds of young children detained in US government camps without family for months on end.

Last week the Trump administration moved to lift the 20-day legal limit on how long children can be separated from their families, in a move aiming to establish a stronger deterrent to illegal immigration.

"August Southwest Border Migration numbers show a clear indicator that the migration flows are responding to gaps in our nation's legal framework," said DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton.

"Smugglers and traffickers understand our broken immigration laws better than most and know that if a family unit illegally enters the US they are likely to be released into the interior," he said in a statement.

Data from US Customs and Border Protection showed the total number of people arrested, including individuals and unaccompanied children, also rose significantly in August from July to 37,544 individuals, and was sharply higher than one year ago.

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