By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The United States Customs and Border Protection agency plans to send an additional 150 agents to the southern border region of Texas to combat a recent rise in apprehensions, mostly of children and families crossing illegally, it said on Saturday.
The deployment comes a few months before Donald Trump takes office as U.S. president in January. He pledged to build a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico and deport millions of immigrants in the United States illegally.
Critics contend a wall and mass deportations would be unworkable, economically devastating and nearly impossible to accomplish.
The deployment of the CBP agents is expected to be temporary. They will work to screen and process undocumented migrants, many being children from Central American traveling on their own, the agency said.
In the year through September, there have been 408,870 apprehensions along the U.S. southwest border, an increase of 23.4 percent from a year ago, according to CBP data. The number is below the 479,371 apprehensions in the year through September 2014.
Traveling without relatives and often escorted by smugglers, the children, typically escaping violence and poverty at home, created a humanitarian crisis in the 2014 surge on the border with Mexico. The children typically sought out U.S. authorities to surrender once they crossed the border.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has been criticized by Republicans who accused him of not doing enough to secure the country.
To contain that surge, U.S. authorities opened temporary shelters, reassigned border agents, added processing centers and immigration judges and started Spanish-language campaigns in the countries most of the children were fleeing - El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Dan Grebler)