Southern border surge…Up 173 percent…Border Agents say they know what’s driving it

The 10,588 apprehensions are a 106 percent increase over the same Oct. 1 through Nov. 30 period from last year, when 5,129 kids were picked up.

Apprehensions of family units have jumped too, with 12,505 detentions in those two months, representing a 173 percent increase from last year’s 4,577 seizures in the same time frame.

“We could very well be seeing the new normal,” Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told NBC News.

Sources told NBC News that many Border Patrol agents and officials believe there may be a link between the current surge and a federal court ruling over the summer, when U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered federal officials to change how long they detain the thousands of mothers and children who are caught crossing illegally into the U.S. while fleeing violence in their home countries.

In a scathing ruling in which Gee said it was “deplorable” that families and young migrants are languishing in detention centers, she argued long-term detention is also in violation of an 18-year-old court settlement that restricted how long the government could house migrants while they pursue asylum. She gave federal officials until Oct. 23 to change the policy.

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