File photo: CGTN
WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. border agents arrested or stopped nearly 1 million undocumented migrants at the nation's southern border with Mexico in the past 12 months, an administration official said on Tuesday.
Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), told a briefing at the White House that his agency's enforcement actions at the border in fiscal year 2019, which involved 977,509 undocumented migrants, are "a staggering 88-percent higher" than those in the previous year.
"These numbers are numbers that no immigration system in the world is designed to handle," Morgan said.
Fiscal year 2019 in the United States ran from Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019.
The acting commissioner also gave an update on the construction of physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, a signature project for President Donald Trump and a source of political wrestling in Washington.
"To date, a total of 71 miles of new wall has already been constructed," Morgan said. "By the end of 2020, CBP expects to have approximately 450 miles (724 km) of new border wall system constructed."
Morgan added that he doesn't care "who's paying for the wall" but does care "it's being built."
The Trump administration has tightened the nation's immigration system, with curbing illegal immigration at the border a policy priority.
Trump has been advocating a border wall but Congress has repeatedly refused to approve funding for it, slammed by Democrats as costly and ineffective.
Earlier this year, Trump invoked executive power to declare a national emergency at the nation's southern border in order to circumvent lawmakers and divert funding for the wall, triggering a series of political and court fights.