The Trump Administration reported Wednesday that the number of people apprehended along the southern border continued to climb rapidly in May, going up almost 32 percent from the month of April, as Republicans in Congress joined the White House in pleading for action by Congess to change federal immigration laws.
Border Patrol officials say 144,278 people were taken into custody in May, up from 109,474 in April, making it three straight months over 100,000.
"We are talking about numbers not seen for more than a decade," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "And as we all know, in particular, the amount of families and children are consistently record-breaking as well."
The figures were all the more notable when compared to a similar point in President Trump's first year in office in 2017 - when the number of people crossing the border dropped significantly, many believed in response to his tough talk about illegal immigration.
But since falling to 15,798 in April of 2017, the numbers have gone up dramatically.
BREAKING -- CBP has released border numbers for May. Just stunning— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) June 5, 2019
144,258 apprehensions plus inadmissibles, up 32 percent from April
More than 100k were families or children
680k processed during first 8 months of FY19
I've been keeping this chart since last fall. Every month I am again shocked by how much the numbers are climbing, especially of families. The border situation really is unprecedented. https://t.co/Zw9rGJ2KVf pic.twitter.com/R29BK9IQSp— Dara Lind (@DLind) June 5, 2019
The new numbers were released just hours before the Mexican Foreign Minister was meeting at the White House with Vice President Mike Pence, in the shadow of President Donald Trump's threat to impose tariffs on Mexico starting next week - unless the Mexican government moves to stop the flow of people over the border.
"Right now, there is no deterrence," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), as he urged Democrats to work with the GOP on immigration law changes.
But Cornyn also warned against President Trump's tariff plan, saying consumers would be hit with what the GOP Senator labeled a 'massive tax,' as the President has threatened to start a five percent tariff on all imports from Mexico starting on Monday.
That approach has left Republican Senators frustrated, a reminder of the historic opposition inside the GOP to tariffs.
"Right now it seems to be that every other problem can be solved with another tariff," said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who also cautioned the President against such an economic move.
"I would hope that our consumers aren't hit by this," Lankford added.
So far in 2019, U.S. businesses which import goods have paid $18 billion more in tariffs than at the same point in 2018, as the Trump Administration predicts revenue from import duties will go up by over $28 billion, a 68 percent increase over last year.
As of April, the feds had taken in $39.9 billion in tariffs in 2019, up $18 billion. The estimate for all of 2019 is $69.46 billion, up from $41.3 billion in 2018. pic.twitter.com/f89nofOCOz— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) June 5, 2019
But for many Republicans, the issue isn't tariffs - but rather finding a way to shut off the flow of migrants into the U.S.
"My colleagues across the aisle must stop ignoring the severity of this situation and come to the table to negotiate a workable immigration plan," said Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS).
"The numbers keep skyrocketing while Washington fiddles," said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX).