The number of illegal immigrants arrested by Border Patrol at the United States-Mexico border fell 29 percent in June of this year, signaling that a migrant surge that's burdened federal resources and ignited partisan battles on Capitol Hill may recede during the summer. Border Patrol arrested roughly 94,897 illegal aliens in June of 2019, according to figures released Wednesday by Customs and Border Protection. That is down from nearly 133,000 in May of 2019, the highest monthly total since 2006. Apprehensions at U.S. borders are the metric used to estimate how many illegal aliens enter the United States per month; however, the total number of illegal immigrants is usually higher than that of arrests.
A senior CBP official argued Wednesday that June's decline was due partly to new border security measures put in place by Mexican and U.S. authorities following talks last month. The official cited Mexican efforts to stop migrants traveling in large groups — defined as more than 100 people — before they reach the U.S. Border Patrol intercepted 15 large groups in June, a sharp drop from the 48 groups encountered a month earlier. However, a decrease in numbers during the sweltering summer months is not unusual - in fact, May to June declines occurred in nine of the last ten years.
The influx of migrants over the past several months overwhelmed federal authorities, prompting fierce criticism from of squalid conditions at certain processing centers and shelters for unaccompanied children; most criticisms came from mass-immigration advocates, Democrats, and those who support open borders. Even as Congress approved a $4.6 billion funding package to deal with the crisis in late June, news reports of overcrowding and other problems at an El Paso-area processing center where children are detained, as reported by Politico.
The CBP official said Wednesday that the lower border arrest totals and the $4.6 billion funding package improved the agency's ability to provide temporary housing and care for families and unaccompanied children. Adding that CBP currently had approximately 200 unaccompanied children in its custody, down from a peak of up to 2,700 at one point in May. The overall number of people in CBP custody had dropped to up to 11,000 in June, down from 19,000 in May. The Health and Human Services Department — which received more than half the border funding — has taken children into custody more quickly and relieved pressure on temporary CBP facilities, the official said Wednesday.
The latest border figures will likely influence a planned assessment next week of whether new U.S. and Mexico enforcement measures have been effective. Sadly, it is too soon to tell if this drop in border apprehensions is actually due in part to Mexico's amped-up immigration enforcement or if it is merely following the trend of summer months in previous years. The worst possible outcome would be either the U.S. or Mexico becoming complacent again in immigration enforcement and relaxing talks on a Safe Third Country agreement, or failing to fix the numerous loopholes in the U.S. immigration system. This misplaced faith in dropping apprehension numbers, which in all likelihood are merely following the decade-old pattern of decreasing numbers over the summer months could create an environment that would worsen the crisis at the southern border when summer ends.
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Updated: Fri, Aug 2nd 2019 @ 9:29am EDT