McAllen, Texas—Nearly 51,000 undocumented immigrants were caught crossing the U.S. border with Mexico last month, the Trump administration said Friday.
Among 50,975 people arrested, roughly 23,100 were traveling as families, according to arrest figures posted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The number of people traveling as families arrested last month—mostly from Central America, according to government arrest data—is a 38% increase compared to September. During the 12 months from October 2017 through September, or fiscal year 2018, more than 107,000 migrants traveling as families were arrested the border, a record for any fiscal year. Nearly all of those people have or are expected to ask for asylum in the United States, U.S. officials said.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly described the increasing volume of families caught at the border as a crisis. He has said the impending arrival of multiple caravans of mostly Central American migrants making their way through Mexico bound for the U.S. border constitutes an “invasion” and last month ordered thousands of active-duty military troops, mostly Army soldiers, to the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents.
Friday, Mr. Trump he signed a presidential proclamation that, combined with a new rule issued by the Justice and Homeland Security departments, will block immigrants caught crossing the border illegally from the asylum process. Critics has said the move oversteps his authority to change federal immigration laws. A lawsuit challenging the directive was filed Friday in Northern California.
The effort is intended to push would-be asylum seekers to come to ports of entry along the Mexican border. Migrants seeking refuge at ports of entry have faced weeks long waits in Mexico as U.S. official have said there was no space inside the border crossings.
Customs and Border Protection officials told reporters Friday that the agency was preparing for the arrival of the caravan. The officials said efforts to stop illegal border crossings and process caravan members who arrive at legal border crossings in a safe and orderly manner is a law-enforcement operation, though more than 5,700 military troops have been deployed to the border in Texas, Arizona and California. The soldiers are expected to provide support for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Write to Alicia A. Caldwell at Alicia.Caldwell@wsj.com