Officials at the southern border are bracing for another wave of child immigrants in the coming months, though they anticipate a much lower crest than last year.

Migration analysts project that almost 40,000 unaccompanied children will try to cross into the United States from Mexico this year, down almost 45 percent from 2014.

That’s still likely to be one of the highest surges on record, however, and is expected to strain border personnel and potentially force Congress to return to the issue when it considers funding for the government.

It could also trigger another political fight over the thorny issues of border security and immigration reform, particularly as the 2016 presidential contest heats up over the summer.

Administration officials, who were caught off guard during last year’s surge, say they’ve taken lessons from the experience and are much better prepared this year. But border state lawmakers and child welfare advocates, while pleased with the lower projections, are also concerned that policymakers – both in the White House and on Capitol Hill – aren’t doing nearly enough to address the issue.

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