WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security reports a 325 percent increase in "unaccompanied alien children" and a 435 percent increase in "family units" entering the country illegally.
"Over 10 years there has been a 1,700 percent increase in asylum claims resulting in an asylum backlog of 600,000 cases to date," Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said.
Nielsen adds that in the last three months, her office has seen a spike in illegal immigration that has exceeded 50,000 a month.
Since 2013, Nielsen reports that the US has admitted more than half a million illegal immigrant minors and families from Central America.
"At the same time, large criminal organizations such as MS-13 have violated our borders and gained a deadly foothold within the United States," Nielsen reports. "The entire crisis, just to be clear, is not new."
This comes in the wake of President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which has sparked a backlash after children were separated from their families at the border.
Trump said that he is "disturbed" by the current situation and that the United States won't be "a migrant camp" or a "refugee holding facility."
"We are a country of compassion; we are a country of heart; we must fix the system so that those who truly need asylum can, in fact, receive it," said Nielsen.
The White House wants Congress to amend the 2008 Trafficking Victims Prevention Reauthorization Act and the Flores Settlement Agreement, reform asylum laws and end systemic abuse of our asylum system.
"Right now, our asylum system fails to assist asylum seekers who legitimately need it," Nielsen said. "We need Congress to fully fund our ability to hold families together through the immigration process."