By Jon Dougherty

On a day when most of the country was focused on the then-upcoming Michael Cohen circus in Washington, D.C., and President Donald Trump’s high-profile second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, U.S. Border Patrol Chief  Carla Provost was detailing the threats along the U.S.-Mexico border in support of a national emergency declaration.

“There is an ongoing debate as to whether this constitutes a border security crisis or a humanitarian crisis. Let me be clear, it is both,” Provost told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

The Border Patrol leader’s assessment runs counter to allegations made by Democrats and even some Republican critics of the president’s national emergency declaration, which remains in limbo as several states have filed suit to stop it and the Democrat-controlled House has passed legislation to revoke it.

Critics of the declaration argue that border apprehensions are at 20-year lows and as such, there is not an actual crisis.

But while the 361,000 people the Border Patrol caught in fiscal year 2018 is less than half of the 1 million who were caught in the 1990s and 2000s, Provost says there is more to the numbers than meets the eye, The Daily Caller notes.

“I’ve been asked many times how the current situation can be a crisis compared to years when we surpassed 1 million apprehensions,” she told the committee members. “To understand the numbers, you have to look at what’s happening on the ground.”

The news site reported:

In years past, the majority of those apprehended at the border were Mexican nationals who, after taken into custody and documented by Border Patrol, were handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations office for deportation. In the present time, more than half of all border apprehensions are Central American children or families. Due to a 2008 trafficking law, the children cannot be immediately deported because they are not from Mexico or Canada.

Provost says the demographic changes have stretched her agency thin.

“Each day, nearly 25 percent of my agents are diverted away from our border security mission to care for, transport and process family members and unaccompanied children,” she told lawmakers. “We know that when agents are occupied, narcotics smugglers, criminal aliens, gang members and others use the opportunity to violate our borders and our laws.”

Provost’s comments fly in the face of numerous Democratic critics who claim Trump’s crisis declaration is a “fake emergency.” Congressional Democrats on Tuesday voted to block Trump’s emergency declaration, and a number of progressive groups and states are suing to block the move in court.

The president has been unable to convince Congress to provide him with enough funding to build a substantial amount of new border fencing and barriers that Border Patrol officials have acknowledged would not completely solve the illegal immigration and drug smuggling problems but would dramatically reduce both.

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