Washington: Illegal border crossings into the United States continued at a high pace in December, with more than 50,000 people detained for a third straight month as the number of families illegally entering surged, US Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday.

With the US government in its third week of a shutdown as President Trump demands that Congress fund the construction of hundreds of miles of new wall on the border, CBP said it detained 50,753 individuals who had entered illegally in December.

Another 10,029 people were blocked from crossing the border without documents at official ports of entry.

The total was roughly the same as October, when migrant crossings surged from earlier in the year, but below the 62,456 detained and blocked in November.

The figures for the past three months have been the highest since a short-lived surge in 2014.

People arriving as families accounted for more than half of the total. A record 27,518 people who crossed the border as families were apprehended, and the number of unaccompanied children detained remained high at 4,766 for the month.

CBP said 96 percent of those apprehended after crossing the border were from the impoverished Northern Triangle countries of Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Most are seeking asylum, citing the poverty and pervasive violence in their countries.

The Trump administration has failed in efforts to deter them, and is being forced to quickly process them and release them into the country pending official status hearings.