The number of undocumented migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border has seen a significant drop in just weeks, for the first time in months, although still remaining at historically high levels.
The development comes after President Donald Trump signed an agreement with the Mexican government to deploy its own security forces to crack down on asylum seekers, ABC News reports.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the number of people trying to cross the border illegally or approaching a port of entry without proper documentation was 104,344, which represents a drop of 28 percent compared to May. Almost all of the undocumented migrants who arrive at the border seek asylum.
Late last month, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told reporters that he had noticed early indications of the drop after Mexico announced it would deploy its National Guard following President Trump’s threat to slap the country with tariffs if it fails to curb the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S.
“In terms of when we’re going to know if these efforts in Mexico are making an impact, I think these three weeks are demonstrating they are already,” McAleenan said back in June, adding that the drop was also a result of the Trump administration’s policy to force migrants to wait in Mexico while their case is being considered in U.S. immigration courts.
Human rights groups have raised red flags about both practices, stressing that migrant families often experience massive shortages of shelter, food and water, and are exposed to serious crimes such as kidnapping and sexual assault.
However, despite the decline in the numbers, they are still very high compared to last year. In June 2018, the number of border apprehensions and people stopped at ports was only 43,180.
An agency watchdog determined last week that U.S. Border Patrol facilities in several areas faced massive overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, noting that the levels of migration “and the resulting humanitarian crisis are rapidly overwhelming the ability of the Federal Government to respond.”