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Apprehensions at the US-Mexico border by the numbers

FILE - In this June 18, 2014, file photo, two young girls watch a World Cup soccer match on a television from their holding area where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Ariz. The government hasn't worked out a streamlined way to reunite kids and parents who were separated at the border under a new zero-tolerance policy that requires all immigrants who cross the border illegally to be prosecuted. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool, File)

WASHINGTON (SBG) - The faces of immigrant children are dominating headlines.

The challenge of the crisis is now memorialized on the cover of this week’s Time magazine.

Illegal immigrant children have, over the years, presented this nation with a dilemma.

President Donald Trump highlighted how long this challenge dates back with a video he posted on his Twitter page, in which President Bill Clinton said, “All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country.” Then, while on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton said this: “Just because your child gets across the border doesn’t mean your child gets to stay.”

But Roy Beck, president of the non-partisan immigration-reduction group Numbers USA, said in an interview Thursday that over the years the reality hasn’t reflected that policy.

“People in these other countries have realized that we have a catch-and-release program if you have children with you,” Beck said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection breaks down apprehensions along the Southern border through the years, finding the number of unaccompanied children rose by nearly 20,000 (19,722) between 2015 and 2016, with the number of family units nearly doubling. Those numbers were slightly down in 2017 but the central problems still exist.

“There are millions upon millions of people in Central America who want to come here who don't have a good, happy life in their home country and the fact is we cannot take all of these people,” Beck said.

For Democrats on Capitol Hill, the challenges run deep, with many focused on better ways to help those seeking asylum.

“When you are fleeing specific death threats, violence, targeting by gangs or even governments, you have the right to come to this country and to seek asylum,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif.

For others, the incentives for illegal immigrants need to be targeted.

Beck says until the jobs dry up, the numbers crossing illegally surely won’t.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to reflect that Numbers USA is a non-partisan organization, not a conservative one.

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