PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. (KSAZ) - Officials are saying it is shaping up to be a disappointing end to the year that started with a major decline in illegal border crossings. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu says they see an increase in drug and human smuggling daily.
"This is a promise to do what, a promise to disappear as it's being joked about by our friends in ICE and Border Patrol," said Sheriff Paul Babeu.
Babeu is frustrated by the recent surge in children and families crossing the Southwest Border illegally, specifically in the Rio Grande Valley.
According to recently released numbers, it shows the fiscal year of 2015 to be the second worst on record.
"Right now we're living in a country where there is no enforcement of immigration laws. So don't try and scratch your head and try to figure this out and wonder why our numbers doubled. In fact there should be no reason why the numbers shouldn't triple," said Babeu.
Agents caught nearly 4,500 children traveling without parents on the border last month, and about 5,300 parents and children traveling as families. Both of these are twice the amount since September of 2014. Babeu says more people are coming because it is easier than ever, and there are no consequences.
"They're all coming in as refugees, and then they're given papers, documents to report back in a month, or 60, 90 days, and it's already proven, past experience has shown that they're not showing up at all. Ninety-plus percent and in some cases much higher than that never appear," said Babeu.
Border Patrol officials in Washington have blamed violence and oppression in several Central-American countries on being the driving force bringing more unaccompanied children here. But agents on the ground say it is the failed catch and release policy.
"Most believe they will either not be caught or even if they are caught they will not be deported back to their home country. The UAC's and family groups we detain are acutely aware that we will not detain them, and we will not hold them until they're adjudicated," said Babeu.
Babeu says several dozen unaccompanied children were brought to Pinal County to live about a year ago. He says the Federal Government said it would be temporary, but now a year later the children are still there.