The surge of children and families crossing the southwest border illegally accelerated again in September, leaving fiscal year 2015 the second-worst on record, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Border Patrol.

Agents caught 4,476 children traveling without parents on the border last month and 5,273 parents and children traveling as families — both of those nearly twice the level of September 2014, suggesting that smugglers have once again stepped up their efforts to entice Central Americans to make the crossing.

It was a disappointing end to a year that began with major drops in illegal crossings, leading officials to say they may have been on track for the lowest pace since the early 1970s.

Instead, the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 with mixed news of a drop in children and families from 2014, but a year-end trend that suggested the problem is far from solved.

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