In fiscal year 2019, which ran from October 2018 to September 2019, Border Patrol agents detained 851,508 immigrants who illegally entered the U.S. via Mexico. Of those, more than half, 473,682, arrived with family members, Customs and Border Protection data showed.

According to the Washington Examiner, more than 375,000 immigrants who were detained as part of family units were later released directly into the U.S, including 145,000 who were released directly from Border Patrol stations between March and September.

Border Patrol made the unusual move last March of releasing people directly from its custody rather than turning people over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE cited two issues that made it difficult to hold families: it lacked the bed space and a 2015 court ruling blocked it from detaining families more than 20 days.