U.S. Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 150 African immigrants attempting unauthorized crossings into Texas at the U.S. southern border within the past week, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
On Saturday, agents arrested a group of 37 undocumented immigrants from Central Africa who had crossed the winding Rio Grande onto U.S. soil, the CBP said in a news release Tuesday. The agency said the immigrants consisted of family groups, including small children, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo.
Last Thursday evening, agents picked up a group of 116 African immigrants crossing the river in the Del Rio sector, the CBP said in a May 31 news release.
Video footage shared by the CBP shows men and women wading through hip-deep water, many of them carrying young children and possessions. The news release said the immigrants — including nationals from Angola, Cameroon and Congo — comprised the first large group of African people apprehended at the Southwest border this year.
Theirs also was the first large group of individuals caught in the Del Rio sector, the agency said. The Del Rio-Acuña port of entry lies almost 260 kilometers (160 miles) west of the Texas city of San Antonio.
"This large group from Africa further demonstrates the complexity and severity of the border security and humanitarian crisis at our Southwest border," according to the sector's chief, Raul Ortiz.
Immigrants apprehended on Saturday were taken to the Eagle Pass South Border Patrol Station, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of San Antonio, near the Mexican city of Piedras Negras.
In an emailed response to VOA, a CBP spokesman said that of the 37 in the group, "23 were from the Republic of the Congo and 13 were from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Four were evaluated at a local hospital but did not require treatment."
The CBP said 20 of them have been released and will be notified of a hearing. The rest are still being processed.
Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 27,000 people from 37 countries other than Mexico since Oct. 1, the start of the 2019 fiscal year, the CBP said.