White House: 'Surprising uptick' in US border crossings

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Border Patrol arrested nearly 10,000 immigrant families and unaccompanied children caught illegally crossing the border with Mexico in August, according to statistics published by the agency Monday afternoon.

Since the start of the fiscal year in October, border agents have arrested more than 35,000 children traveling alone and more than 34,500 families, mostly mothers and children.

The August increase comes a year after a surge of more than 68,000 unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Many were trying to escape violence in Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala. For the last several months, the numbers of illegal border crossings by families and children have been far lower than last year, before increasing in July and August.

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White House: 'Surprising uptick' in US border crossings
A Texas Parks and Wildlife Warden stands next to a 30 caliber rifle as he patrols the Rio Grande on the U.S.-Mexico border , Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Mission, Texas. Texas is spending $1.3 million a week for a bigger DPS presence along the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents search for undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine agents patrol along the Rio Grande on the Texas-Mexico border, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, near Rio Grande City, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Department of Safety Troopers patrol on the Rio Grande along the U.S.-Mexico border, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Mission, Texas. Texas is spending $1.3 million a week for a bigger DPS presence along the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: A U.S. Border Patrol agent searches for undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: Paramedics and U.S. Border Patrol agents assist an undocumented immigrant after he collapsed from heat exhaustion after crossing from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaign. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
In this Sept. 5, 2014 photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine agent looks for signs along a trail with assistance from agents in a helicopter near the Texas-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. Since illegal immigration spiked in the Rio Grande Valley this summer, the Border Patrol has dispatched more agents, the Texas Department of Public Safety has sent more troopers and Texas Gov. Rick Perry deployed as many as 1,000 guardsmen to the area. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent searches for undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 near McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Texas Department of Safety Troopers patrol on the Rio Grande along the U.S.-Mexico border, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Mission, Texas. Texas is spending $1.3 million a week for a bigger DPS presence along the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: Paramedics and U.S. Border Patrol agents assist an undocumented immigrant after he collapsed from heat exhaustion after crossing from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaign. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: Paramedics and U.S. Border Patrol agents assist an undocumented immigrant after he collapsed from heat exhaustion after crossing from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaign. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents wait for paramedics to take an undocumented immigrant to the hospital after he collapsed from heat exhaustion after crossing from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaign. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the increase was a "surprising uptick" and a "concern" for the administration. Earnest did not provide a reason for the increase, but noted that it's at odds with the typical decline in border crossings in August.

The administration was caught off guard by the sudden surge of children and families in 2014 and made several efforts to curb the flow of people crossing the border illegally, including media campaigns to discourage people from making the dangerous trip across Mexico. The administration also opened family detention centers that could house thousands of people while they awaited deportation hearings. The detention centers were established in part because about 70 percent of families released at the border and ordered to report back to immigration authorities failed to return to face deportation hearings.

A federal judge in California ruled last month that Homeland Security Department's detention of families violated a longstanding legal agreement requiring that immigration children not be held in secure facilities that aren't licensed to care for children.

The government filed an appeal in that case on Friday and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the detention centers were being converted into processing centers for interviews and screenings.

Earnest said the U.S. will continue to warn people considering crossing the border or helping their children do so about the dangers associated with the trip.

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