Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said Monday that border arrests have marked a sharp decline over the past month, underlining the construction of a new section of the border wall.
He said at the White House that in August 64,000 people were apprehended or deemed inadmissible, a drop from the 82,000 a month before and its highest 144,000 in May.
According to Morgan, the trend is a result of President Donald Trump’s “unprecedented network of initiatives,” including his efforts to force Mexico to conduct more enforcement on the border. The 56 percent drop is a consistent trend since the spring, CNN reports.
It comes as the current administration has introduced a number of controversial immigration policies in order to stop the influx of migrants trying to cross the southern border. Previous summers have seen a similar decrease in the number of crossings, but Morgan was adamant that the decline “has nothing to do with seasonal trends.”
He did, however, acknowledge that Mexico’s commitment to deploy its national guard may not continue into next year, saying that he was unsure “whether the government of Mexico” and Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras “are going to be able to sustain the level of commitment that they have.”
Border Patrol noted that its border apprehensions dropped by 30 percent in August compared to July, from 72,000 to 51,000. The figures are significantly lower than those from earlier in the summer but still higher compared to the past two fiscal years.
The same period last year, the number of arrests was 37,520, while in August 2017 22,300 people were apprehended.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan on Wednesday praised the “continued partnership with Mexico” and regional support from Central American countries in fighting against illegal migration.
Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matt Albence likewise pointed to help from Mexico as a factor in the decrease in border apprehensions.
“A lot of what we’re doing and a lot of the success we’re seeing is a result of our foreign partners, especially with what Mexico has done with regard to putting national guard on their southern border as well as on their northern border,” Albence said. “Those efforts need to be sustained in order to keep these numbers at a low level, especially in the absence of action by Congress.”