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Number of asylum seekers sent back over border to grow

A person crosses the street at a U.S Mexico border crossing in El Paso, Texas, Friday, March 29, 2019. Threatening drastic action against Mexico, President Donald Trump declared on Friday he is likely to shut down America's southern border next week unless Mexican authorities immediately halt all illegal immigration. Such a severe move could hit the economies of both countries, but the president emphasized, "I am not kidding around." (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

WASHINGTON — A Trump administration official says they are aiming to greatly expand the number of asylum seekers sent back over the southern border each day.

It is meant to address the swelling number of arriving Central Americans. It could be difficult to achieve; the program started Jan. 29 and has been slow to get going and has suffered scheduling glitches.

Right now, about 60 asylum seekers a day are returned at the San Ysidro, Calexico and El Paso ports of entry.

They return to the U.S. for court dates.

The official says the goal is to have as many as 300 people returned per day by the end of next week. The official had knowledge of the plans but was unauthorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Colleen Long, The Associated Press